3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
– Will the Treasurer have printed and distributed a list of any alterations he intends to propose in the Tariff schedule so that honorable members can give their attention to them’ beforehand? I think that this course should be taken in order to avoid serious stoppages.
– I do not know that any serious stoppages have taken place in consequence of intended alterations not having been circulated.
– No; but they may occur.
– I cannot give an absolute promise that I will not alter anything; but so far as I can give timely information as to any proposed alteration I shall do so.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend to take any action with reference to the report of the Standing Orders Committee which was presented to the House some time ago, and which recommended for its approval a new set of Standing Orders.
– I have already replied to this question - that if there be time before the close of the session it can be very well spent in considering the report referred to.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House as to the probable date on which it will be asked to adjourn for the Christmas recess?
– As soon as the consideration of the Tariff has been concluded, a step which it is hoped can be reached by the end of next week.
– I find that as one result of the recent fire in Melbourne about £20,000 worth of Commonwealth (property has been destroyed, and it is stated that it was not insured. I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is not the rule of his Department to insure its property, and, if so, why it was neglected in that instance?
– I intend to go fully into the matter, which I may say was brought before me this morning by the honorable member for Bourke. The Government have always taken up the position that they should not “insure their property. What I think we should do is to establish an insurance fund for the purpose of meeting such risks.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that it has been reported that the great fire in Melbourne was largely owing to the fact that a person could not get connected with the Fire Brigade Station, for ten minutes ?
– I have made inquiries and ascertained that that theory, which is not backed up by any evidence, is as illfounded as the theory that the fire was originated by the lighting of cases in a lane, which is quite contrary to fact.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information with reference to the reported transfer or sale of Fanning Island?
– There is no news of any recent date. The question was considered, I should think two years ago, when it appeared to be believed that there was no power to transfer the island, although certain property on it might be sold. However, we called attention at that time to the risk which was being run, and I think that the Pacific Cable Board, which has a station there, must have kept itself informed of the progress of events.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following paper: -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Darling Island, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 29th November, vide page 6834) :
Division VIa. - Metals and Machinery.
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by Proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime. Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the Proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth. 229. Iron and Steel -
Scrap Iron and Steel, and Pig Iron, ad val. 12½ per cent.
Ingots.; Blooms; Slabs; Billets; Puddled Bars and Loops ; or like crude Manufactures, less finished than Iron or Steel Bars, hut more advanced than Pig Iron (except Castings), ad val., 12½ per cent.
Bar ; Rod ; Angle ; Tee ; Sheet and Plate (plain) ; Wire and Hoop, ad val., 12½ per cent.
Machinery, Machines, and Parts - Mowers; Reapers; and Reapers and Binders, ad val., 17½ per cent.
Iron and Steel Tubes and Pipes, not dutiable under Division VI., ad val., 12½ per cent.
Spelter, ad val., 10 per cent.
– I wish to postpone the consideration of the descriptive paragraph at the commencement of this division until the duties have been considered.
Paragraph postponed accordingly.
– As honorable members know, it is not intended that this division of the Tariff shall come into operation until some time hence. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill hinges on this division. It is very likely that when the Bill is submitted, I shall alter the dates as to the running of the bounties. If that Bill is passed - and I hope that it will be passed - it will operate for a certain period, and I do not think it will be very long before either Mr. Sandford or some other person will have sufficiently established an industry to warrant the Government in issuing a proclamation to bring into force this division of the Tariff. Had I thought of it before, I think I should have proposed to increase the duties under Division VIA.
– They have been increased.
– Only in one case, and very slightly. I think they ought to be 25 and 20 per cent. in comparison with the duties 011 other items in the Tariff. However, that is a matter which I am not going to deal with at the present stage. The alteration will be in plenty of time four and five years hence- which period will, I expect, elapse before these duties will come into operation. They will not operate in the meantime. I intend to propose to delete the paragraph f - spelter. From the information which I have been able to gather, I do not think that there is any necessity at the present time to retain that duty. It is being produced at Cockle Creek, and there is no doubt that there is a considerable demand for it in Australia. I am informed that there is a market for the whole of the spelter that can be made here. I do not think that there is any occasion to go out of our way to impose a duty at the present time; though I may change my opinion if I receive further information. I wish to say that I regard these duties as the most important in the Tariff. Iron and steel are the base of all manufactures in Australia. If we can produce enough iron and steel to supply Australia without the importation of any large quantity we shall be laying the foundation of one of the greatest industries - probably the greatest of all - in. this country. I believe that honorable members will feel that it is absolutely necessary to carry these duties into effect. I am not asking for increased duties at present, because I believe that those proposed will be sufficient for the purpose, and also because I desire to finish the Tariff before Christmas.
– What is the Minister proposing to do in reference to the bounty ? Does he propose that the bounty and the duty shall operate together?
– The bounty ceases when the duty comes into operation. The two do not run together. The honorable member will find that the heading to the division provides that the matter is to be dealt with in a certain way. I do not know whether it is wise to discuss that question now, as the heading has been postponed. But certain: words have been left out of the heading as it formerly stood, to the effect that a vote of both Houses of Parliament is required before the duties come into operation, Strong objection has been taken to that provision by those who wish to invest their capital in the iron and steel industry. In this Tariff we are proposing to leave the responsibility ‘ of bringing the duties into operation to the Minister of the day,
– That is an absolutely novel thing in Tariff matters - to leave to the Minister the power to impose duties.
– I do not intend to discuss that ‘matter now, although 1 think that there is a great deal- to be said in favour of leaving this power in the hands of the Minister. Parliament cannot deal with the details.
– It will be a. very dangerous thing to do.
– I am disposed to think that people will not be inclined to invest their money in the iron industry unless they know exactly what is going to happen.
– If our Minister of Trade and Customs has not sufficient power already, and is to be granted further power, it will be a poor look out.
– Honorable members are sometimes unwisely disinclined to trust those in. authority.
– We might as well shut up Parliament, as they have done in Portugal.
– It is not a fair thing to say that we will do certain things under certain conditions without giving security to those who invest their capital.’ A million of money might be invested in the iron industry, and then a new Ministry might come into power and say “We will not do what you .ask of us,” or “we will not ask Parliament to do it,” or “we have not time to do it.”
– It is a dangerous power to give to any Minister.
– Well, it is a dangerous thing to give honorable members licence to talk as long as they like.
– The Minister is enjoying that licence just now.
– I do not say much, unless there is occasion to say it ; and I do not intend to deal with this matter any further.
.- I offer no objection to the course which the Minister has proposed to take, but he has commenced to debate the matter which he has postponed. I did not expect that he would do that. I unhesitatingly say that I should have preferred that my amendment should receive consideration now.
– It will be dealt with afterwards.
– But the Minister has commenced to debate the matter. I therefore see no reason why I should not continue the discussion.
– I referred to it only incidentally.
– The Treasurer indicated that he was going to oppose the policy which my amendment embodies. I have consistently expressed my belief that we should ardently endeavour to establish the iron industry in Australia. But I am not prepared to say at the present moment what duty I shall support. I do feel, however, that it should be distinctly stated in the Tariff that the bounty and the duty are not to be concurrent. Personally, I believe that the manufacturers would prefer a duty to the bounty, and I have already indicated that, in my opinion, the Manufactures Encouragement Bill has a very precarious career in front of it. I shall discuss the details at greater length on a future occasion, simply contenting myself now with expressing the opinion that we should have a specific declaration in the Tariff, that if duties are agreed to by the Committee, they should not be concurrent with the bounty to be paid under the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– 1 take it that the only matter before us now is whether we are in favour of duties being imposed under item 229, after the iron industry has been sufficiently established in Australia. I wish to say, at the outset, that m dealing with the subject as I shall do, I do not desire to reflect upon any Minister. I do not agree with the honorable member for Kooyong that the manufacturers would prefer a duty to a bounty. With the exception of those who were only turning out iron I do not think that manufacturers would prefer a duty to a bounty, and cannot understand the honorable member suggesting that they would.
– One manufacturer of iron might.
– Naturally, if there were only one manufacturer of iron, he would prefer a duty to a bounty; but every user of iron would be of a different opinion. For that reason I think that the granting of a bounty is a much better method of encouraging the industry than is the imposition of a duty. I am not averse ‘ to a duty being imposed if the industry is established. The creation of the industry would more than compensate for any drawback that might arise from the collection of such duties as these.
– I do not desire that the bounty and the duty should be concurrent.
– I should oppose their running concurrently.
– So should I.
– And yet we have bounties and duties operating concurrently in relation to a number of Queensland industries.
– I was ready to do something more for the iron industry than to agree to the imposition of a duty, but the honorable member would not support me. I am prepared to support these proposals, but do not think there should be any lengthy debate upon them. When we have to deal with the material question of whether the Minister shall have power by proclamation to direct duties on metals and machinery to be collected, or whether such a direction should be given only by Parliament, which alone has the power to impose duties’, I shall be found objecting to the first-named proposal.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That paragraph r be left out.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
– We have now to deal with the heading to this division, which reads -
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime. Proclamation *to issue as soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth.
As I explained a few minutes ago, this provision is different from that which has been associated with a similar schedule in two other measures. On three prior occasions we have had under consideration a schedule of this kind, and in the last instance we varied the heading, using words similar to, if not exactly the same, as those now under consideration. In the Tariff of 1902, it was provided that the duties should come into operation by a resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament. I have been advised all round, however, that the uncertainty attaching to such a provision would militate against the establishment of the industry.
– This is not debatable.
– I do not agree with the honorable member ; I think that it is.
– The honorable member wishes to carry on legislation by Government.
– I hope the honorable member will not grumble. Under the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, up to the 1st January, 191.3, a certain sum of money will annually be expended by way of bounties on the production of pig iron. If at that time, or before the expiration of that time, it appeared to the Ministry that the production of pig iron in Australia. was sufficient to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth then, under this proposala proclamation could be issued providing that the duty of i2 per cent, should. come into operation. As soon as the duty comes into operation, the bounty will cease. I wish at once to disabuse the minds of honorable members as to there being any desire on the part of the Government that the duty and the bounty shall be concurrent.
– That is not the point.
– The honorable member for Kooyong referred specially to that point. I should be prepared to trust n nv Ministry to honestly carry out the intention of Parliament by issuing a proclamation when satisfied that the quantity of pig iron being produced in Australia was sufficient to supply local requirements.
– Why not trust the Parliament?
– I am prepared to trust the Parliament ; but I would remind honorable members that occasionally it takes a long time to secure the passing of such a resolution. Personally, this provision is nothing to rae,
Mir. Knox. - Hear, hear; no one suggests that it is.
– I speak as I feel in regard “to this matter ; and I recognise that there is a difference of opinion on the subject. If it be decided that these duties shall not come into operation except upon a resolution of both Houses of Parliament, I shall have to submit to that decision;; but I think that such a condition would hamper the investment of money in the industry, and that it would be better to adopt the Government proposal. We use the words “sufficiently established.” The question of how best to express our intentions in this regard has always been a troublesome .one; even when the right honorable member for Adelaide was Minister of Trade and Customs great difficulty was experienced in determining what would be the most suitable words to use as a direction to the Minister. On one occasion it was proposed that the duties should come into operation when it was shown that sufficient pig iron was produced to supply Australian requirements.
– Such a provision would not do, because whilst we might be producing a small quantity of pig iron, we might have no machinery in the Commonwealth for carrying on. the rolling and other necessary processes.
– If we grant a bounty the production of pig iron will quickly be followed by the erection of the machinery necessary for rolling it out and turning it into an improved marketable commodity. We provide for a duty of 12 *</inline> per cent, on pig iron, ingots, blooms, slabs, and so forth. There would be 12^ per cent, duty on pig iron and 12J per cent, on puddled bars. If any manufacturer produced pig iron in sufficient quantities he would secure that amount. If he successfully carried out the process of converting that pig iron into puddled bars he would get another 12
– If he does it.
– He could do it.
– There is no doubt he could do it, and he would do it.
– He might be doing so well on the production of pig iron that he would go no further.
– Not at all. He would know that he would get the extra 12 J per cent, on the iron converted into puddled bars. If we could induce any person to produce a sufficient quantity of pie iron to meet Australian demands, there would be no difficulty in inducing them to take up the processes of converting the pig iron into the other forms of iron upon which they would afterwards be able to obtain the advantage of the duties set out in item 229.
– I hope the honorable gentleman is not too sanguine.
– I do not know whether I can be regarded as a sanguine man, but I believe in Australia and in developing Australia.
– So do we.
– And I believe in developing first of all the production of pig iron in- Australia.
– The question is whether the- manufacturers of pig iron will necessarily go on from that to the other processes.
– Of course they will, if they are assured that they will not be swamped by the American Steel Trust with steel and iron imported from Pittsburg. Unless we can give them that assurance they certainly will not proceed.
– The import returns, as the honorable gentleman is aware, show that there is no serious competition by the American Steel Trust.
– There is serious competition in every industry of iron and steel manufactures.
– So there will be to the end.
– There will be until we put a stop to it.
– -What has this to do with the question whether the proclamation is to be issued on- the authority of the Minister or of Parliament?
– I admit that I have been led a little away from that.
– Think of Christmas.
– I do; but I wish to have this matter dealt with in a way which will, not have the effect of delaying the establishment of the iron industry. I have said that I am in the- hands of the Committee in the matter.
– Is it worth while for the Minister to provoke a debate on the subject when we know that even if we passed the proposal here, another place would not agree to it?
– I do not know what another place would do, and I do not think that the honorable member knows.
– Another place would never think of leaving such a matter in the hands of a Minister in this Chamber.
– It would not be in the hands of a Minister, but in the hands of the Executive. I am in the hands of the Committee. I submit the proposition, and I hope that honorable members will deal with it as soon as possible.
.- I wish to move - ‘
That after the word “ Commonwealth “ the following words be added : - “ But no proclamation to issue, except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.”
May I at once say that in moving this amendment, I intend no reflection upon the present or any future Minister.
– I quite understand that.
– Let me further say that if the Minister will at once say that he is prepared to leave the matter to Parliament I shall withdraw the amendment, and let him propose the necessary alteration, as I have no special desire to be personally associated with the amendment of the proposal. I think the Minister must admit that the feeling of the Committee is against so great a change as he proposes. Honorable members are noW at all likely to agree that it should be left to the discretion of the Minister to say when the industry has been sufficiently ‘ .established. That would be an enormous power to place in the hands of any Minister or Government. The question at issue is certainly one upon which honorable members should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion.
– The honorable member is not moving his amendment.
– I have moved it.
– I have a prior amendment to move.
– Then I am prepared to withhold my amendment ‘for the present and to give notice of my intention ‘to move it.
– I might ask the honorable member for North Sydney to give me notice of his amendment.
– It is in accordance with the Minister’s own desire.
– Then I shall be sure to agree to it’.
– There is a question which I should like to raise before we deal with any amendment, though I should like to say that I am heartily in accord with that suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong. Listening to the Minister I began to wonder whether we were not approaching a similar condition of things to that existing at the the present time in Portugal, where Parliament has been altogether dispensed with.
– Queensland is not so far away.
– It was not the Minister there, but the Governor.
– The cases are very different. I hope the Committee will not agree to the Minister’s proposal. It seems to me to be a distinct step towards personal government, which I hope will never be adopted in Australia. It would be a sorry day for the democracy if we gave these ‘ large’ powers affecting the vitals of our form of government into the hands of any Ministry or Cabinet except in the most urgent circumstances.
– The Minister is not really serious.
– I am serious.
– I should not think so. When I first looked at the proposal I wondered if it had been submitted for the purpose of protecting the revenue. I have not heard the Minister say anything about that phase of the question. 1 take it that if the Cabinet did arrive at the conclusion that any of these industries were sufficiently established to warrant the imposition of the duties, it would be their duty to bring down a schedule of the duties in the ordinary way, imposing them at the same time. That would be necessary for the protection of the revenue. I do not think we should loose our hold of the right to consider the matter de novo when that time arrives. I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to two or three of these items. Paragraph a includes scrap iron and steel and pig iron. Paragraph b includes ingots, blooms, slabs, billets, puddled bars and loops, or like crude manufactures, less finished than iron or steel bars, but more advanced than pig iron. Then, in paragraph c we have bar, rod, angle, tee, plain, sheet and plate, wire and hoop.
– Those paragraphs have been passed.
– I am aware of that, but the item is not through yet. I wish to ask the Minister whether these duties are to be cumulative.
– I explained that matter.
– I point out that these paragraphs refer to forms of iron in three different stages of manufacture, each dutiable at 12^ per cent.
– The duty would be charged upon them in the condition in which they arrived.
– They would arrive in all these three conditions.
– One piece of iron could not arrive in all three conditions.
– The honorable member is quite right. I was thinking of the bounties. These duties cannot be cumulative.
– I said that they were in this way. If a man produced pig iron he would get the advantage of the duty on pig iron; and if he afterwards erected machinery and produced iron in, the second form, included in paragraph b, he would get the advantage of the two duties.
– The point to which I have referred should be made clear, and I believe that is the object of the amendment to be proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney.
.- This is not a matter over which it is necessary to indulge in heroics. It is simply a question of whether Parliament is to rule, or be ruled by Ministers.
– Parliament always rules the Ministry.
– Unfortunately, if a Minister makes a mistake, Parliament is exceedingly generous and stands bv him. But that is not the point. This idea of the Government proceeding by proclamation, is an old. familiar friend. Every Government and every member desires to have the power to control Parliament. Perhaps there is not a member in this Chamber who would not do so if he were given the power - and I suppose those of us with the least ability would desire it most. The Treasurer said that if Parliament reserved this power to itself, speculators or business men might hesitate to put their money into an industry. But why should they be afraid of Parliament? What Ministry would hesitate to bring down a motion- if they thought- that an industry was sufficiently established for the duties to be imposed ?
– A good many of them are afraid of Parliament, but they are more afraid of the Ministry.
– No Ministry would be afraid to ask Parliament to impose the duties if they thought the industry had been established. If any Ministry were afraid, it would be the duty of Parliament to obtain another Ministry that would not be afraid. I do not impugn the motives or integrity of Ministers. One of the worst features of our democratic form of government is to be found in the suggestions that are sometimes made against the probity of Ministers. That is a bad thing. I do not think that that accusation can be made at all. There is no reason why Ministers should have cast upon them such’ a responsibility as is proposed. A democratic Parliament should hesitate to hand over any of its powers to any Minister or Ministry. I trust the Committee will in no way bind itself by agreeing to a provision of this kind. Why should we bind Parliament for the two, three, four, or five years of which the Minister spoke? It must be obvious” to the Minister that his difficulty in that direction will be increased by the length of time which may elapse before the proclamation is brought into operation. There is no reason why Parliament should not retain this power, even if the Minister’s arguments were sound, because this Parliament is sitting, and appears to be destined to sit, for at least two-thirds of the year.
– It is to be hoped not.
– If we are not smart, the year will not be long enough.
– That is so, and I presume is brought about largely through the loquacity of the Opposition.
– Or through the proposals which the honorable member’s party are constantly forcing on the Ministry.
– Any proposals that are submitted from this side are for the benefit of the people. The party that hesitates to bring forward proposals to benefit the people is not performing the duties which it was sent here to perform.
– My proposals are for the benefit of the people.
– I give the Minister every credit for fighting for what he believes in,’ although I do not always agree with him. He still persists in fighting for his proposal in this case, although he knows the sense of the Committee is absolutely opposed to it. This is the third proposal of the kind that I have opposed, and I hope it will be the last that will be submitted to us.
– - I need not direct myself to the question of whether the Ministry should have the power by proclamation to impose the duties in this division. I think the Treasurer finds that the sense of the Committee is against him.
– I do not know that. I would rather the Committee agreed with me.
– We cannot. A similar proposal has been defeated previously. I am as sure as I can be that even if we passed it another place would not. because the Minister of Trade and Customs will always be In this Chamber, and, while he may be able to feel the pulse of this Chamber, and know whether he would be safe in issuing a proclamation, the pulse of another place might be quite different.
– And the Minister is responsible to this Chamber only.
– That is so. I am sure the other place would regard the proposal as giving undue power to this Chamber; and refuse to accept it. The Treasurer stated that if the Committee were against him, he would not push his proposal. If he has ascertained the feeling ot the Committee, I do not wish to debate the matter any longer, as I desire to save time. But I wish . to have an amendment made prior to that proposed by the honorable member for Kooyong in order to make it clear that what the Minister said was his intention will be the law. I move -
That after the word “ operation “ the words “ anil any then existing bounty to cease” be inserted.
– That is to prevent the concurrence of bounty and duty?
– Yes ; it is to prevent a bounty being paid after the imposition of a duty.
.- If it is understood that the Minister intends to accept the proposal that Parliament and not ti e Minister shall fix by resolution the date from which the bounty shall cease and the duty operate, I will sit down.
– Then sit down.
.- I do not propose to debate the general question as to whether Parliament should or should not have a say regarding a matter which is really one of legislation, because I gather from the Minister’s attitude that he proposes to accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Koovong.
– Yes ; I am going to accept it. I am not going to keep the talk going if I can help it.
– The Treasurer cannot complain that I keep the talk going, but I wish to ask a question with a view to clearing up another matter which is left in a little uncertainty in this provision. It is quite possible, under its language, that we may have a proclamation referring to pig iron, or to ingots and blooms. I may be wrong, but, as I understand it, the object of the proclamation is to indicate that the Government have made up their mind that the iron and steel industry has got on to a sufficiently firm footing to do without a bounty, and to do with a duty.
– In regard to any particular branch of the industry.
– Is- it Intended toapply to any particular branch?
– Each branch will be dealt with separately?
– So long as we understand, that is all right.
– We may deal with pig iron but not with the other class of iron.
– I understand, then, that there may be bounties on pig iron, for instance, and not on the other classes of iron?
– The words “ the manufacture to which the proclamation refers “ show that a bounty is intended on the -particular manufacture.
– This seems a rather roundabout way of proceeding with the whole matter. It is the clear intention of the Committee, I believe, not to indulge, in any double banking by way of both bounty and duty. If we dispose of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill in some way or other soon, we might very well simplify the whole .procedure. For instance, if we pass that Bill,, what need is there for this proviso ?
– There must be some provision for protection after the withdrawal of the bounty.
– The bounty does not last very long.
– Are we to proceed with the Bill and also impose protective duties ?
– There will be no bounty while the duties are imposed.
– I think this heading ought to be determined in the light of the passing or otherwise of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. What I mean is that if we are determined not to give both bounty and duty, and the Bill does not pass, this division may be eliminated straight away.
– If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill does not pass, then I shall fall back on Division VIb.
– And what in the meantime?
– I propose to postpone Division VIb. until the end of the Tariff; and then, if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill does not pass, I shall fall back on that division.
– The honorable gentleman will also have to fall back on Division VIa.
– I shall eliminate that altogether.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Knox) agreed to -
That after the word “ Commonwealth “ the following words be added - “But no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such Manufacture is sufficiently established.”
Heading, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the consideration of Division VIB. be postponed until the remaining items have been disposed of.
Division VIb. depends upon the passing or otherwise of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– That Bill cannot be passed before Christmas.
– Never mind;
I propose that the consideration of Division VIb. shall be postponed. If Parliament decides against the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, then Division VIb. will be proceeded with.
– Is not Division
VIb. intended to come into operation as supplementary to Division VIa. ?
– It says so in the heading.
– There is some mistake about the heading. The object is, if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is not carried, to place extra duties on the items in Division VIa., and then to place correspondingly high duties, or higher duties, on the items in Division VIb. to protect manufacturers, who have to pay duty on their raw material.
– I understand that.
– That is the object ; and there will be no necessity for Division VIb. if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill passes.
– That is not intended at all.
– That is exactly what is said in the Tariff.
– The heading of the division is not properly worded.
– Supposing the Manufactures Encouragment Bill does not pass, then I understand that the Government will be prepared, as I think we shall all be prepared, to put the duties in Division VIa. into force at once.
– Would we?
– If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill does not pass, I understand that the intention is in some way to give protection to the manufacture of iron in Australia. What was stated most distinctly by the Treasurer was that, either by bounty or duty, we are going to protect the industry.
– That is quite true.
– And with that I cordially agree. If anything were to happen to prevent the Manufactures Encouragement Bill becoming law, the Government would, I understand, seek to impose, the duties in Division VIa. at once.
– The honorable member is quite right.
– That is a matter for Parliament to decide.
– That intention has been distinctly stated by the Treasurer more than once.
– Hear, hear.
– And the Treasurer declares it again now. If, by reason, of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill not passing, the duties in Division VIa. are imposed at once, will it not also necessarily follow that we must impose increased duties under Division VIB
– There is a difference of opinion as to that.
– That may be.: but at present I am merely endeavouring to ascertain what is the Government scheme, with which we may or may not agree.
– Doss the honorable member agree with the scheme?
– Whether we agree with it or not, we may clear the air by finding out what it is. If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill does not pass, it is admitted that the Government scheme involves the imposition at once of the duties in both Division VIa. and VIB
– I do not think so.
– The Treasurer has just said that it is so.
– All I am endeavouring to arrive at now is the policy of the Government ; whether or not we agree with the policy. Then I think that the heading is accurate. If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill does not pass both Houses of the Legislature, it is the policy of the Government to bring into operation both Divisions VIa. and VIb. of the Tariff. But if, on the contrary, that, measure becomes .law, in that case until Division VIa. is brought into force by proclamation VIB. will not be operative. The bounty will be operative. The manufacturers of the metals specified in VIb. will not require any additional protection because their raw materials will not be taxed. Therefore, during that period, Division VIB. will not be operative any more than will Division VIa. But as soon as the bounty ceases, and Division VIa. is ‘ made operative by proclamation, Division VIb. must be brought into force - just as if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill had not been passed - iri order to protect those manufacturers of metals whose raw mate- rials will be rendered more expensive by reason of the operation of the provisions of Division VIa.
– The claim of the Treasurer is that by that time the industry will have been so established that their raw materials will not be dearer.
– There is only one point upon which I differ from the honorable member. I agree with him in everything that he has said except as to the necessity of bringing Division VIB. into operation simply because Division VIa. becomes operative.
– The heading to Division VIE. reads -
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and subject to the duties speciefied in Division VI. in the meantime. Proclamation to issue -
That is the proclamation bringing Division VIB. into operation under which the present duties upon machinery” will be increased by about 2 or 3
Can anything be clearer than that? As soon as. we bring into operation the duties under Division VIa., which will increase the price of the raw material to the manufacturers of machinery, Division VIB. also becomes operative.
– The honorable member’s point is that the Government have not made the position clear ?
– I think that it is clear, but the Treasurer now affirms that what I have outlined is not the Government scheme at all.
– I. understood that it was their scheme.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer what is the Government scheme.
– - I agree with everything that the honorable member for Flinders has said up to the last point which he pur. Let us assume that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill has its intended effect, and that upon the authority of both Houses of Parliament a proclamation is issued, bringing Division VIa. into operation. By that time we shall have insured to those engaged in the manufacture of metals and machinery an adequate supply of raw materials. That being so, we shall not need Division VIB- because the intention of that division is to protect the manufacturers, “whilst their raw materials could not be manufactured locally.
– In the event of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill being agreed to by Parliament, and of Division VIa. being subsequently brought into operation, the Treasurer will not put into force the provisions of Division VIb.
– I am not going to deal with that division at all. .
– When is it to come into force?
– Division VIb. will not come into force at all if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is agreed to by Parliament., and if that measure has the effect of causing the production of all that we require in the shape of pig iron and other raw materials for themanufactures of this country. The object of inserting that division in the Tariff was to make the necessary provision in the event of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill being rejected, and a duty being imposed upon pig iron. It must be obvious to honorable members that the operation of such a duty would increase the price of pig iron to the manufacturers of machinery until such time as we were producing sufficient pig iron to supply their requirements. But the moment that we produce sufficient to supply their needs we shall need only to retain the duty upon their raw material.
– Then the heading of the division requires alteration?
– Yes. The moment I saw it in print I told the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs that it was wrong, and that it did not convey my ideas upon this matter at all. If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is defeated we shall lose Division VIb.
– Division VIb. is in force now?
– Take item 143 as an illustration.
– The honorable member will find that item 143 is embodied in Division VI., but that it is subjected to a lower duty than is proposed under item 143 in Division VIb.
– Only 5 per cent. lower.
– Under Division VIb. it is proposed to levy increased duties for the purpose of protecting the manufacturers who, in the event of the Manufactures
Encouragement Bill being rejected, would be called upon to pay an increased price for their raw material in the shape of pig iron, bar iron, &c. But if the measure in question be carried, and if it has the effect of stimulating the production of pig iron, we shall not require to bring Division VIb. into operation, because the manufacturers will obtain their raw materials at a normal price.
– The Treasurer is anticipating that when pig iron is being produced here in sufficient quantity its price will not be increased to the manufacturer?
– Quite so. I feel sure that it will not. I am not going to proceed with Division VIb., provided that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is agreed to. . But should it be rejected I shall endeavour to pass that division into law, because its provisions will be required in the interests of the manufacturers of metals and machinery.
– The Treasurer will then give them an additional2½ per cent. protection?
– From2½ to 3½ per cent. additional.
-I think that the whole difficulty in connexion with this division is the result of the unsatisfactory heading which has been adopted in the case of Division VIb.
– It is not only unsatisfactory, but contradictory.
– If I understand the position, it is that in the event of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill being agreed to by Parliament, and running its term–
– It may not have to run its term.
– But assuming that it runs to the point when the Minister recommends Parliament to impose the duties provided for under Division VIa., he will not then need to bring Division VIb. into operation at all.
– That is so.
– In the event of the
Manufactures Encouragement Bill being passed in a form satisfactory to the. Government, will they be prepared to abandon Division VIb. ?
– I am only holding it in abeyance.
– If the Manufactures
Encouragement Bill is passed, will the Minister leave out Division VIb. ?
VIB. was framed in relation to the Tariff as introduced, and is misleading at the present time.
– I admit that the heading is not correct.
– Will the Treasurer, when the time comes, accept my suggestion in regard to the two Houses of Parliament as to that division also?
– I have accepted that.
– I agree with the honorable member for Flinders, that this division was inserted with a view to assisting those connected with the manufacture of iron. As soon as Division VIa. comes into operation, Division VIb., unless we make a different arrangement, will automatically’ take effect, and will place the importers and users of iron in a very difficult position. However, I understand from the Minister that he will omit Division VIB. if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is passed, and that the matter will come up again for consideration at the end of the Tariff discussion.
– Yes ; if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is not passed.
Motion agreed to; division postponed.
Division VII. Oils, Paints, and Varnishes.
Item 230. Blacking; including Dressings, Pastes, and Polishes for Leather ; Furniture Oils; Pastes, and Polishes; and Bronzing and Metal Liquids, ad val. (General Tariff) 40 per cent. (United Kingdom) 35 per cent
.- Most of the dressings included in this item are the raw materials of manufacturers. Dressings, pastes, and polishes for leather are used almost entirely by boot manufacturers in preparing their goods for the market, while bronzing and metal liquids, which are not made in this country, being solvents for converting gold and bronze powders into paint for decorative purposes, are used mainly by decorators, who get no protection from the Tariff. I have received a letter from a business firm which says -
The item that affects us very, seriously is Division VH., item 230, which reads - “Blacking, including all dressings, paste and polishes for leather, 40 per cent.” We may mention that we introduced a scientific preparation for belt- 1 ing from America about ten years ago, and after some difficulty, have worked up a moderate business. The value of the importations, however, amount to ^500 a year, and from what we can learn, they come under the heading already mentioned, although there is another item in the same Division, 233 - cling surface being really a belt grease - under which it could be classed ; but with our knowledge of the Customs Department, having previously paid 20 per cent., it is evident that 40 per cent, would be claimed.
I understand that there is no locally manu factured preparation which seriously competes in quality with this, and that it is very popular with those who wish to reduce wear and tear by friction in the use of machinery.
– What is the name of the preparation ?
-“ Cling surface.” t have here several illustrations of machinery on which slack belting instead of tight belting is being used because the belts have been treated with “cling surface.”
– Why is the preparation not made here?
– Perhaps it is a patented preparation, and the Australian market is too small to allow it to be manufactured locally at a profit, the firm which makes it having the world’s market. I have a communication from another firm in regard to the leather preserving boot polish.
– There is plenty of that made here.
– A number of boot polishes are made locally ; but I wish to refer to some of the evidence given on this subject before the Tariff Commission.
I want to show what this duty really means on the invoice cost of these goods. The Home cost of Durbar leather preserving boot’ polish, under the present Tariff, is £1. To that sum there have to be added 10 per cent, ad valorem, 2s. ; 35 per cent., duty, 7s. 8Jd. ; freight, insurance, Customs clearance charges, which equal 10 per cent, on the Home cost, 2s. ; and 35 per cent, duty on packing cases, equals 2J per cent, on contents. A case containing £10 worth of goods costs 15s., and 35 per cent, on 15s. is 5s. 3d., being equal to 2 J- per cent, on each £1 worth of goods in the case. The figures may be set out in this way -
equal to 51 J- per cent, on the Home cost of goods.
– The packing cases must be included in the landed value.
– The packing cases are practically of no value for other purposes ; but the importers have to charge the duty on them, and add that to the cost of the article.
– The packing cases should properly be included in the landed cost of the article.
– I am not arguing whether they should properly or improperly be charged to the cost; but pointing out what the total cost, with these charges added, amounts to.’
– The honorable member must not overlook the value of the local cases.
– There is no duty on the cases in which local goods are packed.
– There is a duty on the timber.
– There is no duty on the manufactured case.
– What about the better wages paid here?
– -I do not think that the question of wages enters into the matter at all. I dare say that on comparison it will be found that the wages paid in America would be at least as high as, if not higher, than those paid in Australia.
– Do not talk, but move a reduction.
– I intend to move a reduction ; but I hope that honorable members will allow me to put the matter in my own way. The figures I have quoted have been compiled from an invoice of goods which arrived in the Star of Scotland, and the charges are equal to 51^ per cent, on the Home cost. The figures show, I think, that the proposed duty is very much too high. I find that before the Tariff Commission Mr. Belcher,- of Adelaide, stated that he had been in business for only four or five months, and was. doing a fair trade, considering that he had just started. He wanted the duty to keep imports out of the market. The duty asked for, he admitted, was high ; but he would ask for a higher one if he thought that he would get it. He wanted the duty because he desired to get a higher price. Mr. Spooner, of Melbourne, complained that the boot manufacturers would not take his goods through prejudice, but nevertheless the American price had fallen. He wanted a duty because the price of the imported article was lower than his price, and he represented that his product would be bought if the price of imported polish were doubled.
That disposes of the contention of the Treasurer that on several occasions the effect of a duty is really to reduce the price of the local article. In this case the manufacturers of the local article distinctly state that their object in asking for the duty is to shut out the importations, so -that they can double their own prices. Mr. Spooner said that he did a large trade with New Zealand and sold f.o.b. there at a lower price than he charged buyers in the Commonwealth. I have made those references to the evidence to show the purpose of those who are asking for the duty, and to point out that, on their own admissions, they are doing very well indeed.
– In free-trade England they quote a lower price for export. It is done everywhere.
-I dare say it is. I am not complaining about it being done.
– The honorable member, of course, is only putting the case for the foreigner.
– I resent that interjection as wholly unwarranted, and contrary to fact. Importers who reside amongst us are not foreigners any more than are manufacturers who reside here. The same thing is done by Mr. McKay with his harvesters. He charges the foreigner far, less for his machines than he charges the Australian farmer. It is done here, the same as it is done elsewhere. In almost all cases the local manufacturers charge the consumers in the countries to which they export their goods less than they charge the consumers in this country. That appears to be a general practice. I presume that when they do sell their goods at a lower price to outside persons they do not sell them at a loss, but at a profit.
– Frequently it pays them to sell for export without getting a profit.
– That is so in exceptional cases, I admit. We may, however, take it, I think, that where any local manufacturers are trying to develop an export trade they are doing so with the object qf securing an additional profit.
– They can sell their exported goods without getting a. profit, and yet make an’ additional profit on their ag;gregate output.
– That may be- so in some cases ; but I believe that it is not the general commercial rule. I do not think that the export of boot polishes has attained such large dimensions at the present time that the local manufacturers are selling them at a loss outside. However, I do not want to prolong the discussion unduly ; but to submit an amendment.
– Before the honorable member for Lang submits an amendment, I wish to mention that it is the intention of the Government to see whether it is not possible to arrive at some method under which the duty shall not be charged on packages which are not worth anything, and shall only be charged on packages which are of some commercial value. That seems to me to be a fair way of dealing with the matter. .
– That means raising the ad valorem duty.
– It seems to me that when any person imports rubbish round a package which is of no value, it is not fair to charge a duty on that rubbish. On the value of the package the duty should be paid. Wooden packages may come into competition with various things; but I think it is fair to do as I have indicated. When I was in -control of the Department I thought it was ridiculous to charge duty on something which was of no value. In a great many cases the packages are of no value. I have thrown out that suggestion to the Committee, because it may influence the honorable member for Lang in regard to something which he is proposing to do.
.- The honorable member for Lang, as usual, wants the duty to be reduced. I want the duty to be so fixed that importers cannot do as they have been doing.
– Hear, hear.
– I do not suppose that any one on the Opposition side will say that the honorable member for Kooyong is as bigoted a protectionist as I am, and when he cheers my remark that there should be a fixed duty his assent ought to carry some weight with it. I hope that the Government will agree to a fixed duty, which can easily be charged on the weight of the contents of the tin. The bulk of these importations - over two-thirds - come from the United Kingdom.
– Sixty-five per cent.
– The percentage is in creasing every year. Since 1904 the imports have increased over 50 per cent. In three years their value has increased from £41,180 to , £63,861, with the result that the home trade has fallen off. Of course, the £63,861 would represent a warehouse cost of no less than £80,000. The foreigner has secured seven-eighths of the trade. Undoubtedly the Nugget Polishing Company Limited are the largest exporters of this class of material from the United Kingdom to Australia. I hold in my hand a copy of their wholesale export price lists. The wholesale price list quotes waterproof black or brown polish in sixpenny tins at 3s. per dozen. That is the price of the ordinary small tin which is well known to honorable members. On the back of this list I find the conditions of sale to the retail trade.It says -
This polish and the outfits, whether bought direct from us, or from any dealer, are sold on the express agreement -
That they shall not be retailed at less than 4½d. for 6d. tins; 5d. for 6d. bottles;9d. for1s. tins;10d. for1s. bottles;1s. 3d. for1s. 6d. outfits; 1s. 6d. for1s.9d. metal outfits and 2s. for 2s. 6d. outfits.
That the polish shall not be put into or sold with any outfit other than one supplied by us.
That our outfits are resold in exactly the same condition as they are when purchased from us; and shall not be resold except subject to these conditions as a term of the sale, which conditions shall remain attached to every box or packet sold, and shall form part of the terms upon which the polish and outfits are resold.
The acceptance of the goods by any purchaser or sub-purchaser will be treated as an acknowledgment that they are sold to him on these conditions, and that he agrees with the vendor to him (as agent in this respect for us) to observe the same.
– Does the honorable member think that the conditions are observed ?
– The conditions are observed throughout the United Kingdom - that is, in ‘their home market.
– The conditions are not observed in Australia.
– That is what I complain of and I propose to deal with. In the case of the small tins the wholesale rates to the retail trade at Home are 36s. gross, and 28s.10d. net. For the export trade the rates are 30s. gross, and 27s. net. The company are prepared to sell at 25 per cent. less for export to the trade than for home consumption.
– The differencebetween the export and Home prices is not 25 per cent., but1s.10d. per gross.
– Nugget paste is sold at a cheaper rate for export than for home consumption. In Australia it can be bought retail at one-half of the price which is charged in Great Britain. At the top of the document it is stated -
The export discount from the list prices of our goods is 25 per cent. from the prices of the polishes and creams, and 15 per cent. from the brushes and pads. For convenience, and to render invoices easier to check, please note that all goods are invoiced to export houses at the lowest net prices, as below, for cash, within seven days of despatch of goods.
I have here a letter from one of the largest importers in Melbourne sent to a firm of polish manufacturers, Messrs. Alfred Spooner and Co., Limited. The letter says -
Concerning the prices sold to the retailers for Nugget Polish three years ago and the present day, we beg to make the following report, which the writer has investigated. Three years ago it was 4s. per dozen, and then it came down to 3s.9d., and 3s. 6d., and retailed at 6d. per tin. The lowest wholesale price to-day is 37s. 6d., or 38s. 6d., less 2½ percent. for parcels, and the retail price at the present time in the boot shops is 3½d. and 3d., and in some of the up country towns the line is retailed at 2d. per tin.
The retailers in Great Britain are compelled to sell at 4½d. per tin. Here, to enable the market to be swamped, they sell at as low as 2d. per tin. When the importers attain their object, they will no doubt do what they did before we had the local competition. They used to sell at 9d. and1s. per bottle, but when the local men began to compete the price was reduced to 6d. The importers are naturally anxious to capture the market. If they succeed, the price will undoubtedly go up. I have here dozens of letters obtained from retailers in Melbourne to show the price of the article in former years and at present.
– I allude to Nugget Boot Polish, which represents more than 50 per cent. of the imports in this line. I will guarantee that for every tin of any other imported stuff which the honorable member can find in the shops in any of our leading streets, he will find a dozen tins of Nugget. I am very glad that there has been no detraction of the Australian article in the matter of quality, and, on the other hand, I point out that I am not saying a word against the quality of the imported stuff. What I maintain is, that the Australian polish is as good as any and that the local makers can turn out all the goods we require.
– Have they the capacity to supply the whole Australian market?
– There is no doubt at all about that. I have not spoken more than three or four times upon this Tariff, but when I find that this English firm is prepared to sell at 25 per cent. less for export, so as to capture our market, I think I am justified in bringing the facts prominently under the notice of the Committee. On former occasions when I have spoken I have been fairly successful, and I hope that I shall do the same on the present occasion. I intend to prove up to the hilt that the price of polish has been enormously cheapened in consequence of the local competition. I have before me a. certificate from a. business man whose premises are right opposite the place where the fire occurred on Saturday evening - Coutie, of 217 Elizabeth-street. He writes -
This is to certify that in 1905 I purchased Nugget Cream at 38s. 6d. per gross, and in 1906 at 33s. per gross.
Hecould not have bought it at that price in Great Britain; yet the price quoted in this certificate was duty paid at the rate of 20 per cent, and all charges paid.
– The honorable member’s proposal is to impose a duty of 40 per cent. I understand.
– I trust that the Government will agree to a fixed duty, so that it will operate fairly, whether the stuff is imported in ounce, 2-oz., or 4-oz. tins, or in bulk. Another document before me shows that in 1907 Nugget Polish was sold in one shop at 3½d. per tin, and for 2½d. at Harris’s, Elizabeth-street. The same stuff cannot be purchased in Great Britain for less than double those amounts. Only last week, in my own electorate, tins were purchased at the rate of two for 6d. - that is, 33 per cent. less than the price for which the same goods can be bought in Great Britain. Surely we have a right to protect our own manufacturers against competition like that.
– Who gets the benefit of the cheapness ?
– The point is, that directly the local manufacturers are shut out, up will go theprice.
– That is “ a chestnut.”
– I will guarantee that Nugget Polish does not sell in London for as low a price as that which I have quoted as the price at which it has been sold in Melbourne . and in country towns. It has to be remembered that the local manufacturer is now paying increased prices for such of his raw materials as are not produced in Australia. Under the new Tariff, he has to pay 2s. 6d. per lb. for his egg albumen, whereas under the old Tariff the article was free. Why did not the honorable member for Lang object to a duty on eggs?
– I did.
– The honorable member was not game enough to move an amendment.
– I am game to move an amendment on any item in this Tariff, if I can get any one to support me. The Treasurer knows that very well.
– Besides, why should not our fowls be protected against the pauper fowls of China?
– The price of caseine has also gone up. It was formerly free, and now pays 2d. and1½d. per lb. The duty on wax is now1d., whereas formerly it was ½d. Polish pads now pay 30 per cent., against 15 per cent. under the old Tariff. Nickel caps now pay 30 per cent., as compared with 15 per cent. under the old Tariff. Those caps, which are placed on the tops of the bottles, are not manufactured here. Nickel zinc pays 15 per cent. under the new Tariff, whereas under the old one it was free. Acetic acid, which is used in the manufacture of these goods, now pays 3s. 9d. per gallon, as against 2s. 6d. per gallon under the old Tariff.
– Surely these increased duties will cheapen the prices of the articles mentioned ?
– If they were made here the increased duties would cheapen prices, but revenue duties will not. As we are not producing nickel in Australia, the article I have just mentioned will be dearer on account of the duty.
– So that a duty at one and the same time reduces and increases prices ?
– If an article is manufactured in Australia, prices will be reduced as the result of a duty ; but until the article is manufactured here, a duty will have the effect of increasing the price.
– Yet, in his evidence, Mr. Spooner said that he wanted a duty so as to increase prices.
– I do not think “that prices will be increased; but the real point is that we do not want to see men driven out of business by the unscrupulous tactics of importers.
– Melbourne people are doing the same sort of thing over in Western Australia. They are dumping their goods there with the object of shutting up Western Australian [manufacturers.
– Are they selling much cheaper in Western Australia than they are selling in Melbourne?
– They are, and will do so until they shut up the local factories.
– The conditions of manufacture are similar in both States, so that there is no reason why the local manufactures should be shut up. I trust that the Government will, in view of the facts which I have submitted, agree to fix a high rate of duty on’ this particular article. I have figures before me which show how the trade of one of our manufacturers has gone down consequent upon the dumping of goods from abroad.
– Why did he not give evidence to that effect before the Tariff Commission ?
– He did. I am referring to Mr. Spooner. The honorable member has quoted some of Mr. Spooner’s evidence, carefully selected. I am not going to say that the honorable member selected it himself, because I understand that he has not had the time to go through” the evidence and pick out what he wanted. It has been picked out for him by interested parties.
– I have read the evidence myself.
– The honorable member may have read it, but he has had pieces selected for him by interested parties.
– The honorable member is entirely mistaken.
– The honorable member need not tell me that. What has occurred on the present occasion was precisely the same sort of thing as we had when the last Tariff was before us; and probably the selection was made by the same person.
-Does the honorable member think so?
– I do.
– Then he is entirely wrong.
– I will take the honorable member’s word for it. At any rate, the trade of this man’s firm has decreased, as he is willing to prove from his own books. They show that from May, 1903, to April, 1904, his total trade was £10,614. But it decreased to £5,131 from May, 1906, to April, 1907. Those figures show a decrease of 50 per cent. While that trade was being diminished, the trade of the importers was growing. I believe that the honorable member for Kooying, who is familiar with the facts, is prepared to support me in this matter. He has gone into the case for himself, and honorable members know that he would not support a duty unless he believed that it was equitable.
.- The burden of the argument of the honorable member for Yarra especially affected boot polish. He has been trying to show the Committee how a duty acts in two diametrically opposite ways. The effect of a duty on boot polish will be, he says, to cheapen prices, while the effect of a duty on the things which enter into the manufacture of boot polish is to increase prices. So that we have two antithetical objects attained by a duty - it raises prices and it reduces prices. Surely the honorable member does not ask the Committee to believe that the effect of duties on articles’ which are manufactured here will be to reduce the prices of those articles, in view of the fact that in their own evidence the manufacturers point out that one of the objects they have in view in asking for a duty is to increase prices because the prices against which they have to compete are so low? The honorable member urges that the effect of a duty will be to lower prices, whilst at the same time he emphasizes the fact that the effect of duties upon the raw material from which boot polish’ is made has been to increase them. The honorable member asks us to believe that a duty will at one and the same time reduce and increase prices. It was my intention to move that the duties be reduced to 20 per cent, and 15 per cent., but in view of the statement made by the Treasurer that he proposes to make some allowance in the matter of cases, which have practically no commercial value, I intend at a later stage to move that the duties be reduced to 25 per cent, and 20 per cent. Thev would thus be brought down to the level of the old duties. Before doing so, however, I intend to ask the Committee to eliminate the words “bronzing and metal liquids.” These solvents, which are used in the manufacture of bronzes for painting purposes, are not manufactured here. I move -
That the words “ and bronzing and metal liquids” be left out.
.- Thehonorable member for Yarra has made a. thorough explanation of the position of the local manufacturers, and I am disposed tothink from the facts that he has submitted: to the Committee that my brief is very similar to that which he holds. I am satisfied that a factory at Richmond ispractically idle as the result of imported brands being sold, for the purpose of destroying the local industry, at prices considerably below those at which thev are offered in England. I wish to emphasize the point made by the honorable member for Yarra that the importation of materialsof this kind into Victoria considerably increased under what, as compared with the State Tariff was the low duty embodied! in the first Federal Tariff. In 1901 theimports into this State were of the value of £5,155i in T9°4 they had increased in value to £12>34i, in i9°S t0 £15, 248, and in 1906 to ^19,698. I would also remind, the Minister that the question qf casings: is an important consideration in determining what is a fair dutv to impose. Blackings and polishes of excellent quality are being; made here, and the industry would flourishbut for the efforts of those who are adopting the’ tactics to which I have referred. T am satisfied that, in the special circumstances, even what might be regarded as an extravagant ad valorem duty would not meet the case.
– What fixed duties does the honorable member recommend?
– I understand that the honorable member for Yarra intends to move duties representing practically half the rates which manufacturers requested when before the Tariff Commission. In consequence, I believe, of the representations made by the honorable member for Yarra and myself, the trade, with a desire tosecure fixed duties, have agreed that the duty on blacking, &c, in bottles, tins, or in any other form containing under 1 oz.. should be is. per dozen ; on 1 oz.. and under 2 oz., is. 6d. a dozen ; on 2 oz_ and under 6 oz., 2s. 6d. per dozen; and on 6 oz. and over or in bulk, 6s. per gallon.
– Those proposals donot provide for a preference.
– The Question of preference has not been considered. The whole of the manufacturers have signed a petitionurging that the duties I have mentioned be imposed. Th’ey have cut down their request to the very lowest level compatible with their being able to keep their works going. ‘ Like the honorable ^member for Yarra, I know that the * factory in Richmond was started with sufficient .capital by capable men who knew their business, but they have been unable to cope with the competition I have mentioned. It is with a knowledge of the bona fides of the representations that have been made that I urge that a fixed duty would be preferable to the higher ad valorem duty which the manufacturers originally hoped to secure. I shall therefore support the amendment which I understand the honorable member for Yarra intends to submit.
I intend to support the reduction of the duty to 25 per cent, on the ground first of all that such a duty plus freightage and other charges ought to be and is sufficient protection for the local manufacturers. I have some knowledge of the business done in one of the imported boot polishes now on the market. I refer to what is known as “ 2 in 1.” It is used so largely in Australia that something like £2,000 was last year paid by the importers by way of duty. I requested the parties concerned to furnish me with some information on the subject, and since the Committee has decided that duties should be imposed to encourage competition, as well as to enable local manufacturers to compete with the importers, I think that I could not do better than quote, first of all, their statement on that phase of the question - “2 in 1” shoe polish does not, as has been represented by Australasian manufacturers, compete unfairly with those friends, inasmuch as it has not been sold to distributors at a less figure than 4s. 6d. per dozen ; in fact, the majority of the sales up to the present have been made at 4s. gd. per dozen, while local manufacturers have in the past been content with, and worked successfully on, prices ranging from 2s. 3d. per dozen to 4s. per dozen.
Local manufacturers have placed on the market a polish or blacking packed in a tin that is almost identical with the “2 in j “ tin. Those imitations are sold at from 2s. 6d. to 4s. per dozen.
– Imitations? They are originals.
– They are originals so far as their contents are concerned.
– But the tins are an imitation only in the matter of colour. Both tins are painted red, and that surely is a common colour.
– I shall not dispute that point. The letter continues -
It is not a matter of price that has successfully introduced “ 2 in 1 “ shoe polish into this market, but that of extreme and hitherto unknown quality. However, having been placed on the market and sold to the public as a 6d. line, it is necessary to continue at this figure to receive the support which has been accorded the line in the past.
We have been discussing the policy . of granting protection to the manufacturer, the worker, and the consumer, and on that phase of the question I wish to quote the incontrovertible statement of responsible” men whom I have known in connexion with my business for the last twenty-five years. After pointing out that it is necessary to continue to sell this polish as a 6d. line, in order to secure a continuation of the support that it has received, my correspondents write-
In face of the new duty, this is hardly, possible, as it will enhance the distributing price to such an extent that the retailing of it will not show the grocer or boot-dealer a fair working margin, and they will naturally hesitate in laying in stocks of an unprofitable line to the detriment of both ourselves and the Australasian public. Our only way out of the difficulty - if the unfair duty is continued - will be to pack the line in a smaller can, thus giving the public a lesser quantity for the same money, and making the public the real sufferer. This we hesitate to do, but, as before mentioned, it is the only course left open.
The company that has placed this polish on the market has been doing a large busi-ness, since it has paid duty amounting to £2,000 out of a total of £12,920 collected in respect of this item. I repeat that a duty of. 25 per cent., plus freightage and wharfage charges, should be sufficient to protect the local manufacturer.
.- The protectionist members of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 35 per cent, on polishes and blacking because of the fierce and intense competition to which the local manufacturers have been subjected, and also because of the suspected low invoice valuations, the prejudice that, exists against the local article, and the cutting rates in which the importers indulge. This item does not relate to a solely Victorian industry ; a start has been made in South Australia. A South Australian manufacturer complained very bitterly of the insufficiency of the duty on these goods, and asked for a duty of 50 per cent., which he said - would tend to keep competing lines out of the market, and would greatly develop the trade. The suggested duty would, the witness thought. lead to the establishment of similar industries in the other States, while not involving any increase in the price to the public…..
He knew of certain lines of polish manufactured in Adelaide being labelled and sold as 11 American goods.”
That is an evidence of the prejudice against which local manufacturers have to compete. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission also reported that -
A Victorian manufacturer of boot and leather dressings, whose business was .established under, the Tariff of that State and profitably conducted up to 1903-4, complained of the impossibility of competing against imported lines. He was recently informed of a- large sale of imported boot polish at 12s. per gross, a price actually less than the cost of the bottles, caps, and cork linings in which his polish was sold.
There is sworn evidence as to cutting rates and fierce competition, and there is a request for high duties. We suggested a duty of 35 per cent, because we had not the data on which to decide fixed rates of duty. I understand that a proposal has been made to substitute fixed’ rates for ad valorem duties. If the Minister is satisfied that the fixed rates suggested are substantially the same as. a 35 per cent, duty, I shall have- great pleasure in voting for them.
– This is another case in which we have arguments submitted merely from the Victorian point of view. We have had the honorable members for Kooyong, Indi, Bendigo, and Yarra speaking on this item.
– But the honorable member for Indi opposed the increase of duty.
– It means only that if Victorians are not getting the whole of the business they continually ask for more. The honorable member for Bass pointed out that candles made in Melbourne were being dumped into Tasmania, and I can assure the Committee that the articles .with which we are now dealing have been dumped into Western Australia, with the result that local factories for their manufacture have been closed. The honorable member for Yarra has complained of the dumping of English manufactures into Melbourne, but he should not make such a complaint when he finds that Victorian manufacturers are guilty of the same practice.
– I am opposed to it.
– Victorian manufacturers of candles, soap, and the goods with which we are .now dealing have dumped their goods into other States with the object of shutting up local factories, and have succeeded in many instances.
– What is the name of the Western Australian firm whose factory for the manufacture of blacking was closed?
– I do not run about with the names of firms tacked on to me.
– The honorable member makes general statements which he cannot prove. I gave the name of the firm that was dumping in. Melbourne.
– I say that it is a general practice of Melbourne manufacturers to dump their goods- in Queensland, Tasmania, and the other States. I have no wish that blacking should be admitted free, but I do not think duties of 50 per cent., 60 per cent., or 100 per cent, should be imposed on it. I should not object to the duties proposed by the Government in this instance, but I say the Minister should not deviate from the Tariff he has submitted in order to satisfy Melbourne manufacturers every time.
.- The honorable member for Fremantle has made an important statement affecting Victorian manufacturers.
– Another Victorian.
– Surely an honorable member representing another State is not to be allowed to slander Victorian manufacturers without a word being said in their defence. If the honorable member will supply the names of the Victorian manufacturers who are carrying on the practice to which he refers, I, for one, shall be prepared to take from them the protection they at present enjoy. I would not by my vote assist any manufacturer to take advantage of others in the Commonwealth in the way the honorable member has described.
Mr.- Hedges. - The honorable member for Bass will tell the honorable member what manufacturers have been dumping in. Tasmania.
– The honorable member for Fremantle, as a professed protectionist, should recognise that the way to prevent dumping is to induce proper competition within the Commonwealth, and that can only be secured by sufficient duties on imported goods. The honorable member should vote for the recommendations of the A section of the Tariff Commission on this occasion - I would not ask him to support a higher duty than they have recommended - and if he did so, he would’ very soon find that there would be sufficient competition in the business in Western Australia to prevent dumping from within or without the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie, in common with all other Victorian protectionists, claims that if duties are put up high enough internal competition will do the rest. The reply is easy and not far to seek. It has not done the rest in the case of many other goods which have been made here for many years; as witness the revelations in the harvester industry. The manufacturers were getting high prices for their goods, there was plenty of internal competition, and yet they ‘were paying their employes as low as 5s. 6d. a day.
– But they charged lower prices for their goods.
– The question of wages was not raised by any honorable member who spoke on this item previous to me.
– I know that.
– Then why does the honorable member assume that I was arguing with respect to the wages paid?
– I assume that the honorable member takes into consideration all the conditions surrounding an industry when he refers to the effect of competition. I say that dumping has not the effect attributed to it from time to time by honorable members in discussing these duties. I wish to point out that in connexion with the blacking industry a brutal frankness was exhibited by those who appeared beforethe Tariff Commission. One witness wanted 50 per cent, if he could get it, and had the candour to say -
We would ask for ahigher duty if we thought we would get it.
I should think he would. Who would not if he thought he had to deal with a Minister like the Treasurer, who would be prepared to give almost any duty which would prevent the importation of anything that could be made here? Who would not ask if he knew he would receive? Nothing could be more simple than to have an interested manufacturer give evidence before the Tariff Commission, and then to take his word without testing it in any way. The witness to whom I refer was asked what his object was in asking for a higher duty, and on this point I quote the following evidence given in answer to . question 62070 -
Do you think there ought to be a good opening in Australia for the local manuf acture of these polishes?
– Whose evidence is the honorable member quoting?
– The evidence of Mr. Alfred Belcher, manufacturer, of Prospect. His answer to the question I have quoted was -
Yes, I am sure of it. If we only get a little higher prices on some of these things or get the others out of the market there would be a. splendid trade.
There is a cool suggestion - knock everybody out of the market, and put the prices up here ! Then the witness admitted that he would be doing a splendid trade. He was further examined as follows -
Have you anything else to tell us about blackings and polishes? - No; all we want is the duty increased, and that would increase slightly the price of these imported lines, and then we will have a show. We can do them at the same price. We are prepared to put our goods into the market at the same price, but people prefer the imported.
I pass by the evident contradiction. The witness first said that he wanted a higher duty, and then he only wanted the imported article shut out. I direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that this is the class of evidence given to the Tariff Commission throughout their inquiry. There evidently was a difficulty in obtaining evidence on behalf of the consumers of Australia. They did not offer evidence, and the Tariff Commission apparently did not deem it their duty to procure the evidence of consumers.
– We invited the various Chambers of Commerce to give evidence, and they refused to do so.
– Yes, but the Commission had the power, and, in my judgment, should have exercised it, to get people who use the various articles dealt with to give evidence.
– The consumers?
– Yes, that is my contention. There should be some evidence from consumers to set side by side with that given by those who were interested in securing higher duties.
– Would it not have taken the Commission ten years to get through their work if they had done that ?
– No; about twenty years.
– I do not care how long it would have taken ; it should have been done if the evidence submitted by the Commission was to be of any value.
It is a question of right or wrong, and in the law courts every day it is the practice to hear both sides.
– Whydid not the Chambers of Commerce come forward to represent the consumers?
– I presume they looked after their own business, as the manufacturers did.So far as I know, they do not specially represent the consumers. The honorable member is aware that they consist largely of business men.
– They knew that if they were called upon to pay increased duties they could pass them on to the public.
– Quite so. We need not expect the manufacturers or importers to bother very much about the consumer. The importer knows that he can pass the duty on, and the manufacturer knows that he can take advantage of it for himself. I say therefore that, in my judgment, an obligation rested upon the Tariff Commission to secure evidence to show how the consumers would be affected as a result of the duties to be imposed. I am not impugning the honesty of manufacturers who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission. I say no more and no less than that human nature operates in them in the same way as in other people. The ‘evidence submitted by’ the Tariff Commission is. in the circumstances, largely valueless, as being the evidence of interested persons.
.- In reply to the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi, with respect to the polish to which he referred, I wish to inform the honorable member that the tin he produced was filled by a man who was asking for a higher duty. The honorable member is the representative of the foreign trader, and, speaking as such, he produced a tin of polish filled by an. Australian workman. The honorable member for Parramatta has just made a speech in which he has once more shifted his ground. Honorable members of the Opposition have repeatedly referred the Committee to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, and times out of number have quoted from it. They have asked on more than one occasion that we should quote it, but now, because a manufacturer who went before the Commision asked for an increased duty, the honorable member for Parramatta says that the evidence collected by the Commission is worthless. It is sufficient for me to know that this industry, which some time ago employed fifty or sixty men, is only employing fourteen to-day. The honorable member for Indi knows that these goods are being dumped into Australia at a price which is less than that for which they can be bought wholesale in the Old Country. Only a short time ago 10,000 gross of “ Nugget” were dumped into Sydney at 25s. a gross. The article is being sold to-day in the Commonwealth at a lower price than the local article, with the object of securing a monopoly of the trade by crushing the local manufacture out of existence. That is what the foreign trader always does when he gets the opportunity. I trust that honorable members who believe in supporting the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission will do so on this occasion, and give this industry a fresh start.
– Does the honorable member want fixed duties or not?
– I want fixed duties, because with them we know exactly where we stand and what we are doing. Sometimes correct invoices are not supplied. The only way to get over that difficulty in all cases of this kind is to have fixed duties. Then those importing the articles know exactly what they have to pay, and we know where we are.
– Then how did the honorable member come to support so many ad valorem duties ?
– Because I could not get fixed rates.
– The remarks made about foreign traders and advocates for importers should cease, if it is desired to get business through. The importer is not a bit different from the manufacturer. They are practically the same individual, and a matter of chance has directed them into one occupation or the other. Each will do the best for himself, and will take all he can get. There is, therefore, no sense in constantly making statements such as I have referred to. The business of a Parliament is to see that neither of them is put in a position to take advantage of the public. The whole debate has centred round one article - the polish called “Nugget.” But polishes for other purposes than dressing boots, such as polishes for harness, metals, and so on, are included in the item. If the argument with regard to “ Nugget “ applies in the case of boot polish, it has no reference whatever to those other polishes. The preference for “ Nugget” isas between it and other British polishes. It has been said that more than half the boot polish that comes to Australia consists of “Nugget.” There is evidently something in it that makes people demand it, so that it is not a question as between an Australian and a British article, but as between British and British. The proposal is to so increase the duty as to compel people to buy another article for which they have not the same liking. Another effect will be to impose a heavier duty on all the articles included in the . item, although they are not used for the same purpose. The Minister should make a statement and stop .the debate.
– I fear that if I make a statement, I shall keep the debate going.
– The Minister knows that a proposal has been made for a fixed duty. Is he going to adopt that and abandon his own Tariff? If he is, what is the fixed duty to be?
– If I propose a fixed duty, I do nott intend to make it higher than the proposed ad valorem rate.
– It is the introduction of alterations of that kina that causes debate.
– I have not introduced the alteration on this occasion. It has been proposed by others.
– We do not know what we are doing when an alteration of that kind is sprung upon us.
– I am informed that fixed rates of is. per dozen, and 9d. per dozen are equal to ad valorem rates of 40 and 35 per cent, respectively.
– The honorable member for Yarra has just given the quotation of “ Nugget “ for export as 2s. 3d. a dozen. Therefore a fixed duty of is. does not represent 40 or 35 per cent., but a higher duty.
– For packages containing under one ounce I am informed that a fixed rate of is. per dozen represents an ad valorem rate of 40 per cent., while a fixed rate of 9d. per dozen is equal to 35. cent. In the case of packages containing over 1 oz. and under 2 oz., fixed rates of is. 8d. and is. 6d. per dozen respectively: containing over 2 oz. and up to 6 oz., fixed rates of 3s. and 2s. 6d. per dozen respectively ; and containing’ over 6 oz., fixed rates of 7s. and 6s. per gallon respectively, represent ad valorem rates of 40 and 35 per cent, respectively.
– The Treasurer is now introducing a schedule which-
– I have not introduced it. I propose to stick to my ad valorem proposals.
– If the Treasurer gives us that assurance, I will say no more. Otherwise we should have to show that those fixed rates do not represent the percentages given, according to our information.
– They were given to me by the Department.
-Accepting as correct the statement of the honorable member for Yarra, the figures quoted bv the Treasurer do not represent the percentages proposed.
– I will stick to my ad valorem rates. f
– Then I will sit down.
.- I shall not press my amendment, because the words which I propose to omit would have to come under item 232.
Amendment (Mr. Johnson’s), by leave, withdrawn.
.- I have a request to make to the Treasurer regarding harness dressing, which is imported in bulk in large quantities. In. more than one of the States there is atn industry for putting up the imported liquid harness dressing, which is brought in in bulks of from 45 to 50 gallons. Thai! industry gives employment in Australia, and I wish to ask the Minister to consent to insert a special line with a reduced duty on harness dressing when imported in casks containing over +0 gallons.
– It will compete with the local article afterwards.
– That is true, but it should have some preferential treatment, because it is made up here and gives employment in tinning, printing of labels. &c. I have received the following letter on the subject - Dear Sir,
Re Tariff Division 7, No. 230. Blacking - including dressings, pastes, and polishes for leather, &c.
The former duty was 20 per cent., and the new duty is 35 per cent, preferential, and 40 per cent, general. We import a liquid harness dressing in casks of 45 to 50 gallons, which we tin off here into pints and quarts, but principally pints. The tins for this, the printed labels to put on the tins, the wood boxes to hold one dozen tins, are all made in Melbourne, and, of course, our own employes do the work of filling, labelling, and boxing (no girls or women employed). If the duty on dressing imported in bulk were made, say, 10 per cent, less than for that imported in tins, it would give us a chance of competing with the tinned dressing - otherwise we will have to arrange to have our dressing tinned, labelled, and boxed in England, as the charges for these items will be very much less than if done here, while labour is proportionately cheaper there than here.
James Munday & Co
There are other firms interested. I do not ask that the article should be made free for them. I suggest that a protection of 30 per cent, should be given for those who manufacture the bulk liquid, but the honorable member for Bendigo will see that the industry has some right to a preferential treatment of, say, 5 or 10 per cent., seeing that, if that is not given, several men will be put out of employment in the case of that firm alone, and a lot of work which is now done in Australia will be sent away.
– The question is : Which is the more important? I do not say that this will altogether stop the dressing from being imported, but it will limit it to a special line of harness dressing, which is of great importance to the farming community, and I understand that harness dressing cannot now be made in Australia of the quality required. Whatever duty is agreed to for this item, I intend to ask afterwards that the duty shall be 10 per cent, less on harness dressing imported in casks containing not less than 40 gallons.
.- It is time that we polished this item off. I. intend to support the proposal of the Government. As to all these other individuals who want special concessions, we ought to dispense with that sort of pleading for special cases. I am altogether opposed to fixed duties, because they mean a penalty which is altogether prohibitive against the cheap article. If this business cannot succeed with a protection of 40 and 35 per cent.-, it ought to go under altogether.
– I move -
That after the words “ 40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted.
I intend afterwards to move for a United Kingdom duty of 20 per cent. I make no secret of the fact that the figures which I now propose do not represent my idea of what the Tariff should be. If I thought I hadthe remotest chance of carrying it, I should move for a very much greater reduction, but I have to bear in mind that our time is limited, and that if we are to get through the Tariff we must not indulge in too many useless divisions, even for the sake of showing our weakness. If I were to propose anything less than the rate in the old Tariff, several honorable members sitting on this side would not agree to it, because they are pledged not to go below the old rate. I am therefore constrained to move this amendment, which will bring the United -Kingdom rate down to the rate in the old Tariff.
.- Do I understand that the Minister will not give any preference for harness dressing which is imported in bulk? I am told that harness dressing is not made, and cannot be made, in Australia.
.- I rise to emphasize the speech made by the honorable member for Lang. The honorable member has moved that the duties be 25 per cent, and 20 per cent., not because he approves of such duties, but because he cannot get enough free-traders to support him in his desire to impose the old Tariff. I do not know what the ghost of John Farrell - I do not suppose you knew Mr. Farrell, Mr. Chairman - would say if he saw his old friend, the member for Lang, an eminent free-trader, submitting such a proposal to Parliament. It would appear, however, that the honorable member for Lang slips on polishes as I have slipped on machinery ; and my only desire is to show that I am not singular in slipping.
– I cannot allow the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley to pass without some reply, because they really misrepresent my position. Personally, I should have proposed a much lower duty if I were not aware of the fact that there would be no possibility of getting it carried ; and I do not desire to waste time. I recognise that several honorable members on my own side have pledged themselves not to go below the old Tariff ; but I propose a reduction which I think there is a chance of carrying.
Question - That after the words “ 40 per cent,” the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) negatived -
That after the words “40per cent.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.,” be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Palmer) put -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December,1907, ad. val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new item be added : - “ 230A. Harness dressing, in casks containing over 40 gallons, on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.”
I propose this with the view of subsequently moving that the preferential duty be 25 per cent. A large quantity of harness dressing is imported in liquid form, and is used largely by farmers, agriculturists, and liverystable-keepers.
– They ought to pay the same duty as do others.
– Those who import the dressing in bulk have their packing and printing done in Australia; and I am assured that if the duty is not reduced, it will be necessary for them to have all this work done in the United Kingdom.
– Why is the harness dressing not made here?
– The harness dressing that is required is not made here.
.- I think that the honorable member for Corio might have advanced some more plausible reason for desiring to exempt particular persons from the payment of this duty. I wish to know why we should differentiate between one class of consumer and another class? Personally, I would exempt all from the payment of Customs duties, but seeing that that is impossible, I am not prepared to discriminate. It is astonishing to find that the honorable member for Corio is a free-trader in respect of this item, although in regard to every other item in the Tariff he is a protectionist.
.- One very good reason which might be urged in favour of my amendment is that the honorable member for Lang is opposed to it. The adoption of my proposal would mean the employment of a number of men in printing, packing, and tinning operations. That fact in itself will be a sufficient inducement to most protectionist members of the Committee to vote for it.
Item 231. Graphite, or Plumbago, Black Lead and Foundry Black,” in bulk, free.
– A mistake has occurred in this item, upon which the A section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 35 per cent. Representations were subsequently made to the Department that graphite could not be produced in Australia. Since the Tariff was introduced, however, abundant evidence has been forthcoming that it is produced in the Commonwealth, especially in South Australia.
– Where is it produced ?
– In South Australia, especially. I therefore move -
That after the word “free” the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent.,” be added.
.- I should like to hear some reasons advanced as to why we should levy such heavy duties upon articles which have hitherto been admitted free. Last year the total importations of the Commonwealth under this heading were valued at: less than £5,000. Are we going to impose a duty of 30 per cent, upon plumbago for the purpose of compelling everybody in the Commonwealth to use the article which is produced somewhere in South Australia? I would further point out that graphite is the raw material of other industries.
– But it is produced here.
– The itemin the (Tariff has reference to prepared graphite.
– Abundant evidence is available that it can be prepared in the Commonwealth.
– We ought to have some assurance that it is being produced here in sufficient quantities for all commercial purposes before we consent to such heavy imposts upon it.
.- There is no doubt that graphite is being produced in the Commonwealth. There is a mine working in Queensland, and another near Tumby Bay, in the electoral district of Grey, South Australia.
– Do these mines turn out much graphite?
– They have turned out a considerable quantity, but, as the article has hitherto been admitted free, the industry has not proved remunerative.. The Ceylon mines are its chief competitors, and most of the plumbago used in the Commonwealth is imported from that island. Messrs. Burford and Company, who manufacture articles of which graphite forms the base, use a very considerable quantity of the locally-obtained ore. I have seen testimonials as to its character - testimonials which are now in the hands of the Treasurer. Samples of this ore have also been submitted to Messrs. Lewis and Whitty.
– Do the honorable member’s remarks apply only to graphite and plumbago ?
– Is it not a fact that only a very small quantity of ore is required ?
– The ore is used largely for moulding purposes, the obiect being to obtain a clean smooth face. For that purpose, there is no doubt that the local ore is as good as any that can be obtained in the world. The company which has been mining for plumbago have found that, under existing conditions, the industry will not pay. I understand that they have asked for a duty of £2 per ton, which would represent a slightly less ad valorem rate than that proposed by the Treasurer. I think it would be equivalent to about 25 per cent. If we have suitable ore in Australia for the production of this material, we certainly ought to encourage the industry. Even if an additional £2 per. ton were added to the price of the local article, its cost would be very little in excess of that of the imported article.
– £2 per ton would represent about 25 per cent.
– The local article is sold to-day for less than is the imported article.
– Does the honorable member know its price ?
– The figures have been supplied to the Treasurer. Plumbago is a native production, and the industry ought therefore to be encouraged.
– I wish to point out the anomaly that we are about to create. Upon the previous item, we decided to levy a duty of 40 per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 35 per cent, under the Tariff for Great Britain. In other words, we im- posed duties of 40 per cent, and 35 per cent, upon the raw materials of the leathermakers and harness-makers, who enjoy a protection of only 25 per cent, upon their finished article. Now we are asked to tax, to the tune of 30 per cent., another raw material of manufactures which are dutiable” at 25 per cent. Is there any sense in taxing raw materials at a higher rate than we do the manufactured article? The position is an absurd one. We are simply multiplying Tariff anomalies. As sure as this schedule is passed in its present form, an outcry will be raised against it by reason of the many anomalies which have been created. When we come to deal with substantial industries, the Treasurer insists that there shall be a large margin between the rate levied upon the manufactured article and that imposed upon the raw material. But, in respect of small matters, he adopts the reverse attitude. I would suggest that he should withdraw his proposal, and be content to levy very much smaller duties upon this item.
.- No protectionist member of the Committee will object to extending to this industry a fair measure of protection, especially as its raw material is obtainable in the Commonwealth. But it does seem to me that 35 per cent, is a very stiff charge to levy upon graphite, particularly in view of the fact that- it is the raw material of other industries. If the Treasurer secured a duty of 25 per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 20 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom - seeing that the item has not previously been subjected to duty - he would be securing a very fair thing.
– The Treasurer has not yet told us the value of graphite.
– As I understand, this plumbago is simply concentrated from its crude state, and is then placed upon the market.
-it is worth about £6 per ton.
– Its value is nearer £9 per ton.
– In any case, I think that 35 per cent, is too high an impost. I do not feel disposed to vote for any rate in excess of 20 per cent.
– If that is the feeling of the Committee, the honorable member had better move in that direction. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the words “ and on and after 3rd December,1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.,” be added.
– I will accept a duty of 20 per cent, all round.
.- The compositions which it is proposed to make dutiable are not produced in this country to any extent, not for want of protection, but simply because the demand is so small, our annual consumption being about 600 tons only. Two or three men could produce that quantity in about a fortnight. These things are used almost wholly in connexion with some of the better castings in the manufacture of iron. The imposition of a duty will penalize certain manufactures, and will not have the effect of stimulating local production. The debate which we have had shows how ill advised it is for the Treasurer to bring down on the spur of the moment proposals which run contrary to those originally embodied in the Tariff, and I hope that in future ample notice will be given of the intention to move such amendments as have been proposed.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 232. Bronzing and metal powders, ad val., 20 per cent.
– I hope that the Treasurer will give a preference to the United Kingdom by making the importations from that country dutiable at 15 per cent.
– Bronzing powders are made here.
– Yes; but there are also importations, and we should, if we can, encourage the use of imported powders coming from the United Kingdom rather than of those coming from foreign countries.
– If the honorable member’s proposals were adopted, the duty against importation from the United Kingdom would be 5 per cent. lower than under the old Tariff.
– What harm would that do? I move -
That the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.,” be added.
.- I shall support the amendment. Bronzing and metal liquids imported from the United Kingdom are dutiable at a rate 5 per cent, lower than that imposed on foreign importations, and why should not a similar arrangement be made in regard to bronzing and metal powders?
– Nearly all the importations of bronze and metal powders come from Germany.
Item agreed to.
Item 233 (Tallow and Greases) agreed to.
– - A tremendous increase is proposed in the duty on oils imported in vessels not exceeding one gallon.
– That is in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– Yes, but the rate is three times that of the old duty.
– The object is to get the work of bottling done here.
– Are we justified in increasing the duty So largely to obtain so small an advantage? The revenue obtained annually from the old duty, which was a heavy one, was less than £4,000, which shows how small the importation of oil in small vessels is. The proposed duty, when levied on twelve gross ot bottles of sewing machine oil, gives these results: freight, £1 15s. 4d., or 18.83 per cent. ; duty on the oil, £10 16s., or 146.93 per cent. ; duty on the bottles, £7 16s., or 106.12 per cent; in all, £20 7s. 4d., or 271.88 per cent.
– Why cannot the oil be imported and bottled here?
– What will be the worth of the industry if all the bottling is done here?
– In the aggregate, it may come to a good deal.
– As the annual revenue under the old Tariff was only £4,000, the whole of the bottling, if done locally, would give very little employment. Are we going to compel the users of sewing machine oil, many of whom belong to the poorer classes, to pay more for it, by requiring it to be brought here in bulk, and bottled locally, than they pay now?
– Even with the duty added, the’ cost will be very little. A bottle of sewing machine oil costs 6d., and one is bought perhaps once in four months.
– The honorable member has used that argument before. He forgets that the total result of these ..small charges will be very considerable.
– On the honorable member’s own showing it would be only ^8,000 spread over the consumers of all kinds of oil.
– The oils on which this duty is imposed are largely sewing, machine oils.
– It is not correct to say that sewing machine oils make up the bulk of the importations. Olive oil, bicycle oil, and other kinds of oil come within the item.
– Olive, castor, and other oils come out to a certain extent, but not to a very large extent. The previous duty has evidently led to the local packing of a lm:e quantity of the oils used here. But to impose duties which with the charges come to 271 per cent, is, I think, beyond all reason. The freight amounts to 18.83 per cent., and, of course, the freight is higher on packed oil than on bulk oils; the duty on the oil amounts to 146.93 per cent., and the duty on the bottles amounts to 106.12 per cent., making a total of nearly 272 per cent. I propose to move an amendment on the first line of the item, which, if carried, will, I presume, be an indication that that reduction shall be made throughout the item. I move -
That after the figures “is. 6d.,” paragraph
A, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per doz., 6d.,” be inserted.
.- The A section of the Tariff Commission recommended a graduated increase in the duty on bottled or packed oil, but no. increase in the duty on bulk oil, except in the case of olive oil. The object in recommending an increased duty on bottled oil was to induce persons to import oil in bulk and bottle it here.
.- The Minister might well consider whether in the interests of the community it is not advisable to refrain from imposing an additional duty on bottled oils. The honorable member for Bendigo has admitted the object which the A section of the Tariff Commission had in view in submitting their recommendation, and that was to encourage the local bottling of oils imported in bulk.
– If we can produce the oils here, so much the better.
– Except in the case of olive oil, our chance of producing the raw materials is limited at the present time. The honorable member for North Sydney has submitted ‘ a reasonable amendment. The old duty was 6d. a dozen, and the employment of labour which the local bottling of the oils would create does not justify us in putting an additional impost upon the consumers. As the honorable member for Perth remarked the other night, the local bottling of somebody else’s product in very likely somebody else’s bottles is a parasitical industry. ‘ It has to be spread over six States. I trust that the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment.
– These items show the real inwardness of many of the protectionist proposals which are made here. Apparently the only idea of some protectionists is not to strive to protect our manufacturers from outside competition so far as the great staple industries are concerned, but to try. in tiddlywinking ways to make work for some persons here.
– Hear, hear; that is what we want to do.
– At the beginning of the twentieth century, the exLabour leader has only got to the pointthat he is still concentrating his energies in the direction of making work, as such. He is very much behind the economic movement of which he is supposed to be a leader. I thought that we were past that time. The inevitable result of these duties must be to encourage the importation of the articles.
– That should satisfy the honorable member.
– By imposing the duties honorable members create a vested interest in the importation of the goods. Apart altogether from the absurdity of imposing high duties to secure the mere bottling of the oils, they are encouraging their importation. With our climate and with handicrafts such as we shall develop very shortly we ought to make Australia quite self-supporting in regard to all these natural products. If, with- all the advantages which our isolation gives us, we cannot beat the world in the production of these articles, we shall be in a very bad way indeed. I hope that we shall not go on imposing duties which do not protect a manufacture as such, but protect only a minor process in connexion with some manufacture. The more we can tie the producing and the bottling of the things together the more efficiently we must necessarily make the production of them, and the better it will be for the consumer and all concerned.
– - The honorable member for Parramatta - who by the way is more an “ ex “ as a Labour leader than I am - has accused me of desiring to make work as such. I have no such desire, but I think that a great deal of argument can be urged in favour of transferring work which we. can accomplish from Other parts of the world.
– No matter what the conditions are under which we can accomplish that work?
– Of course there are exceptions, but the general principle has, I think, a lot to recommend it to honorable members. It is much better to do our own work than to pay other persons to do it for us.
– Surely in all these matters we must pay some regard to the efficiency of production ?
– I admit that the old duty was not quite high enough, but we need not go so far as the Tariff Commission, has recommended. We want to be careful not to admit oils in bottles at a lower rate than that we propose to place on the oils and the bottles when brought in separately. That is one point which I think honorable members should keep in mind. The bottling of oils in Australia should be encouraged because it is a light, clean occupation, for girls. There is no reason why nearly the whole of the olive, castor and linseed oils should not be bottled here instead of being bottled for us abroad. I think that the honorable member for North Sydney was mistaken in what he said as to the proportion of the imports. According to his statement, the duty paid on oils imported in small packages totalled only £4,000, and that included castor oil, which is imported very largely in small bottles.
– It is mostly bottled here.
– Crosse and Blackwell and Morton, particularly the latter, still export to Australia a great quantity of castor oil. It is extra refined, and is claimed to be tasteless. It is imported very largely in small bottles, as well as bicycle and machine oils. The increased duty recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission is rather high. I do not see why it should be fixed at more than is.
– I, as a protectionist, have always felt that what, we want to establish in Australia are large producing industries. I cannot imagine that the employment of persons to pour oil out of tins into bottles is likely to create a large industry. On the contrary, it seems to me to be a waste of valuable time tha* might be better employed in the carrying on of some industry which would be of benefit and use to the people as a whole.
– Are not the making of bottles, ‘ the printing of labels, and the manufacturing of cases things to be considered ?
– Those are very small things. When oil is sent out in casks there is considerable waste and leakage, and the more the article is handled the greater is the cost to the consumer. It can be bottled abroad and delivered at considerably less cost to the consumer than it can be when it is sent out in bulk and put through different processes here. I remember the time in Victoria when, in order to give work, they used to employ men to dig holes in Melbourne and then fill them. That was thought to be a grand way of providing employment. The pouring of oil out of casks into bottles is very much on a par with the employment of men to dig holes only to fill them. Let us establish in this country all the industries we can. Do not let us put on duties which will increase the cost of an article without doing any good to the worker. We have agreed to give a bounty upon the production of certain oils. We have, to some extent, tried to induce persons to grow cotton and olives and other materials for the production of oil. When a duty is imposed on oil for protective purposes, it is all right. But we ought not to impose duties simply in connexion with the covering of an article. It is a poor sort of protection to charge a duty on the straw or packages in which articles are imported. Let us belair and- square; let us put a duty on the article itself and keep it there, but do not let us say that any goods shall not be packed in any country but Australia. From a protectionist standpoint, that is not an evidence of strength, but rather a petty-minded sort of taxation of the people.
.- In my opinion, the duty proposed by the Treasurer is rather high. In my notes, I set down is. per dozen - that is double the old rate - as a fair duty. The honorable member for Balaclava has stated that the bottling pf oils is’ not an industry. He should remember that bottle-making in Victoria is a very considerable industry, and one which may be increased to a very large extent. Recently I visited a local factory, where I saw bottles being made. I thought it was a very good thing to see so much bottle-making carried on in the community. If the bottling of oil is encouraged, it will lead, not only to bottlemaking, but also to case-making and packing. If is all these little things which go to make up a great industry.
It is of no use to speak of one large industry. Only by having a multitude of industries can we do good to Australia; and if we can, by means of this Tariff, cause oil to Le bottled here, we shall be doing good for at least one Australian industry and providing means of employment for a large number of people.
.- I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he is going to be consistent in regard to. olive oil? When we were dealing with the duties affecting iron and steel, the Treasurer stated that where a bounty was granted, the duty would not operate at the same time. I remind the Treasurer that in the Bounties Bill we have provided for a bounty on olive oil. To be consistent with his former .statement, he should provide that the duty on olive oil shall not operate at the same time.
.- The increase of duty proposed is based upon the analogy of the differentiation between bulk and bottled beer. On bulk beer, the duty is is. per gallon, and on beer in bottles, is. 6d. per gallon. The analogy holds good in regard to oil.
– May I point out to the honorable member for Bendigo that the difference in duty between bulk beer and bottled beer is 50 per cent. In this case, the difference is much more than that. The duty now proposed is an increase of 300 per cent, on the old duty. It cannot be said that an increase from 6d. per gallon on cotton-seed oil and 3id. on a lubricating oil, to 3s. per half-pint is an increase of only 50 per cent. It has been suggested to me that there ought to be a preference in favour of Great Britain in this case, and, therefore, I am willing to alter my amendment to make the duty 9d. on the general Tariff, and 6d. against the United Kingdom. May I ask, also, how far the Committee propose to go with this sort of industry? It would not involve going much further to say that we will not import refined oil, or that we will impose such a duty upon refined oil as to compel it to be refined here.
– It would be better to have a large refining industry.
– If the Committee is prepared to say, “ We will make it unprofitable to import refined oil,”’ we might by such means establish a refining industry, but we should have the most extraordinary system of protection imposed in any part of the world.
– The honorable member had better stick to his proposal of 6d. per gallon.
– Some honorable members desire to give a preference, and, with that end in view, I desire to amend my amendment so as to make the duty 9d. per gallon in the general Tariff, with ‘a view to inserting od. per gallon against imports from the United Kingdom.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– The bottle-making industry is concerned to some extent in the item under discussion. It is useless to impose a higher duty on the imported bottles if we allow bottles to come in free when full of liquid. I do not know whether honorable members are considering what it would mean to the trade of Australia if all the bottles in which commodities are sold were made here. In three States - Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia - about 1,800 hands are employed in the bottle industry, and some hundreds of thousands of pounds are invested in it. The most serious competitor that the industry has to face is the bottle that is imported free with a duty on the contents. Bottle making requires the service of high class mechanics. If all the bottles used in Australia were manufactured here, there would be work for thousands more artisans. . In the first place, work would be provided in bottling commodities if they were imported in bulk and bottled for the market in Australia. The printing of labels and the making of cases would also involve the employment of a large amount of labour. Honorable members know that many men have been thrown out of employment in the printing trade through the introduction of the linotype. We have here an opportunity of increasing employment in the printing trade, an3 so absorbing the services of many of these unemployed workmen. I see no reason why the making of oils should not become an important industry’ in Australia. Some of the oils which honorable members opposite laughed at when we were dealing with, the Bounties Bill, such as peanut oil and sunflower seed oil, are of great commercial value, and might just as well be manufactured in this country. I realize that the temper of the ‘Committee has led to the reduction of duties, but I trust that in this instance a truly protective duty will be imposed for the benefit of those who are manufacturing oils in Australia.
.- The argument of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat was that so many commodities are brought out in bottles that there is so much less work for those engaged- in the bottle-making industry in this country. Why, then, does not the honorable member propose that articles which are sold in bottles shall be imported only in bulk? If his concern is simply for the use of Australian-made ‘bottles, I make this suggestion to- him - that if the bottle trade is beings injured, as he makes out, the wa to get over the difficulty is to insert in the Tariff a proviso that imported oils must come out in bulk. Why should I vote for a high duty which would not do what the honorable member wants? I think that the honorable member for North Sydney made out a good case, and I do not see any necessity for a high rate of duty on oil. We can consider what is necessary for the bottle industry when we deal with the item affecting bottles. I admit with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the trade is a very large one, and I also remember that there is a bottle factory in my own electorate. In fact, there is hardly, anything worth having in Australia that is not made in my electorate. Its -.representative” is, in himself, a very good sample of what can be produced there. However, the “bottle ho” argument has really nothing to do with- the case, and I must support the honorable member for North Sydney’s amendment.
.- I wish to raise a protest against this new duty upon goods which we do not, and, I think, cannot, make here. There is a duty on bottles which will have to be considered hereafter, and I am prepared to protect the bottle-making industry as far as is reasonable. But we make no castor oil in Australia, nor do we make many of the other oils which are affected by this duty. I will support a duty of 2s. per gallon on olive oil. I take it that we can so devise the Tariff as to make duties apply to bottles and not to their contents. I shall not vote for a duty on goods which cannot be manufactured in Australia, unless it can be made plain to me that there is not another way of getting a duty on bottles. But I fail to see that there is no other way. I should think that the Trade and Customs Department ought to be able to conceive of a means of imposing a duty on bottles without touching their contents. If the Minister will explain whether there is such a means, I should like to hear him.
– I think that the honorable member for Macquarie is labouring under a misapprehension. He says that he is prepared to vote for a duty on olive oil.
– There is not enough olive oil produced ; it is difficult to get pure olive oil anywhere.
– That is a reason why we should penalize those who sell other oil as olive oil. We have in Australia large areas capable of producing sufficient olive oil to meet the world’s demand. In some parts of New South Wales, including my old electorate, olives are grown to perfection. The honorable member for Macquarie has, I think, overlooked the fact that if we abolish the duty on bottled olive oil it would be unfair to impose a duty on olive oil in bulk, because those who at present import oil in bulk and bottle it in Australia would thus be placed at a disadvantage.
– It is not proposed to abolish the duty on olive oil in bottles.
– The honorable member for Macquarie indicated that he was in favour of its abolition.
– Not in the case of the oil. I asked the Government to distinguish, but they have bungled the whole thing.
– I was referring, not to olive oil in bulk, but to what might be imported in bottles as olive oil. Many people in Australia are employed in bottling these oils.
– How many are employed in pouring bulk oil into bottles?
– I cannot say; but a great many people are so employed in factories in Sydney and Melbourne thatI have visited. The question is not confined, as the honorable member for Balaclava seemed to suggest, to the pouring of imported oil into imported bottles.
– I did not say that the bottles were imported.
– In many cases the bottles are made in Sydney and Melbourne.
– Then there are the labels.
– The labels, the cases, and the cartons, which are made locally.
– And the cases are often made out of imported timber.
– The majority of the cases used in Sydney are made from timber grown on the north coast of that State.
– And we must not forget the corks and the sealing-wax !
– All these things combined tend to give employment to a large number of people.
– And that was done under the old Tariff.
– I am aware of that. I think it is a mistake to assume that we have before us in this case merely a question of pouring imported oil into imported bottles. Bottles are made very largely in Australia, and if we allow these oils in bottles in at a very low duty that trade will disappear.
.- It appears to me that we have in this case an instance of protection run mad. The honorable member for South Sydney seems to be particularly anxious about the bottlemaking industry.
– We shall deal later on with the item of bottles.
– If we are going to protect the bottle industry, why these hysterics about the bottles used in the olive oil trade ? The imported olive oil and castor oil in general use is bottled in the Old Country by Morton and Company. A poor man wanting a penny bottle of ink has now to pay an extra penny for it, because a duty of1d. has been placed on the bottle.
– That is not the question. Would it not be a good idea, Mr. Chairman, for the honorable member to confine himself to the question ?
– When the honorable member1 takes up the cudgels on behalf of any proposal, I am satisfied that there is something in it, but I think it would be monstrous to put an extra penny duty on every bottled package. Like the honorable member for Macquarie,: I prefer that some of these oils should come in free, and I shall divide the Committee on the question. I fail to see how the bottle industry in the honorable member for South Sydney’s electorate will be affected by this item.
– The honorable member’s eyesight is bad.
– The honorable member does not say that when I vote with him. I am afraid that, like the Treasurer, I am getting one-eyed so far as many items are concerned. How will it be possible for the importers to put these oils on the market? If they have to import the oil in bulk, they will have to erect refineries out here. When
I ask for a bottle of olive oil or for a bottle of castor oil, I am prepared to take only that put up by Morton and Company.
– The best olive oil in the world is made in South Australia.
– But the producers will not bottle it here; they send it Home in bulk, and it is imported in bottles.
– No; olive oil bottled in South Australia can be obtained.
– I buy olive oil chiefly to grease my buggy wheels. I fail to see how it can be said that this proposal will be an interference with the bottle-making trade, the printing industry, and the great gum and cork industries.
– The honorable member must not discuss the merits of other industries.
– The honorable member for South Svdney was allowed to do so.
– He made merely an incidental reference to other industries.
– I did not intend to do more, and I certainly do not wish to disobey your ruling.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-4-5 p.m.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta[7.45]. - The honorable member for South Sydney made some allusion to an industry of this kind carried on in his old electorate. I presume that the honorable member was referring to the State Agricultural Farm at “Wagga Wagga. I know of no other place in the district where olives are grown. I think it may be said of that establishment, and of every place in Australia where olives are grown, that those engaged in the cultivation of the olive manufacture the oil and do their own bottling as well. These duties represent a deliberate attempt to separate the processes followed in the production of olive oil. The bottling is as much a part of the production of olive oil for commercial purposes as is the growth of the olives for the manufacture of the oil.
– It is all done in South Australia, and the duty would not affect it.
– My point is that, in order to make the production of the oil as economical as possible, the processes are not separated anywhere where olive oil is produced. Here it is proposed to separate them with the object of giving a few men work. This would necessarily make the production of the oil more expensive, and raise the cost to the consumer. The Government proposal aims at something against which those who believe that we should make all these things for our selves should specially set their faces. Anything which leads to expensive production cannot ultimately benefit those engaged in an industry, whether as workers or as employers. I think we should oppose this duty if for no other reason than to try to force the producers of olive oil to undertake the whole of the processes necessary to place it on the market. If the object in imposing the duties proposed is to compel people not to import oil in bottles, we might go further, and insist that oil. imported in large bottles should be taken out of them and bottled again in smaller bottles. Let honorable members consider for a moment how that would encourage the bottling industry.
– If we compelled engines to be imported in the form of pig iron, that would give more work.
– Quite so; and one might multiply instances of the kind indefinitely. I am not quite sure that the honorable member for Balaclava did not hit the nail on the head when he suggested that the proper analogy was the sinking of holes for the purpose of filling them up again in order to create work. If we really wished to make work for the bottle-makers of Australia, perhaps the shortest way would be to smash all the bottles we have here at present. There would be just as much sense in that as the method selected by the Government for purposes of taxation in this instance. If the bottle industry is to be encouraged by Parliament, let us encourage it in a straightforward way by imposing a duty on bottles, instead of by the intricate round-about way proposed by the Government. 1 should like to know whether the Minister intends to adhere to the excessive duties he has proposed. Some of the duties submitted are absurdly “high, and apparently they have been submitted only on the plea that we should make work for Australians. In this young country, with its boundless resources, virgin soil, and productive capacity, we should be able to turn labour into more remunerative channels than the mere bottling of oil. I hope the Minister will consent to reduce these duties to a reasonable rate. I think it’ would be reasonable to put the duty in paragraph a up from 6d. to od.4 instead of to is. 6d., as proposed by the Minister.
.- 1 do not think there is much in the point raised by the honorable member as applied to South Australian oils, because in that State the oil produced is bottled straight away. I have no objection to the imposition of a duty on olive oil, because we can make enough locally to supply the whole of Australia. My trouble with the Government is that I think there should be no discrimination in the duty levied as to bottles. The duty should be levied on bottles as bottles, without respect to what they contain. I am as anxious to cultivate the industry of bottle-making as is the honorable member for South Sydney, and as anxious to impose a duty on oils that can be produced here, but I am opposed to a revenue duty on mere oils. If we were given an opportunity to deal with bulk importations first, we should know where we were. I do not object to the imposition of a substantial duty on the importation in. bulk of oils that we can make in Australia, or to a reasonable duty on bottles as bottles, which, ‘of course, would affect everything imported in bottles. I ask the Government to reconsider the form in which they have submitted these duties, and give honorable members an opportunity to cast an intelligent vote.
.- I am getting tired of this subject, but I think we might effect a compromise. There is only a difference of 3d. between the proposal made by the honorable member for North Sydney and that which I have made. I am willing that in this case the duty shall be1s. under the general Tariff, and 9d. on imports from the United Kingdom.
Question - That after thefigures “1s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per doz.,9d.,” be inserted (Mr. Dugald Thomson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Storrer) agreed to -
That after the figures1s. 6d.,” paragraph A, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per dozen (General Tariff),1s. ; (United Kingdom),9d.,” be inserted.
– I will take the decision on paragraph a as the decision of the Committee with regard to paragraphs b to e, and will propose duties in proportion. I move -
That after the figures “ 3s.,” paragraph B, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per dozen (General Tariff), 2s. ; (United Kingdom),1s. 6d.,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the figures “ 6s.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per dozen (General Tariff), 4s. ; (United Kingdom), 3s.,” be inserted.
That after the figures “ 12s.,” paragraph D, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per dozen (General Tariff), 8s. ; (United Kingdom), 6s.,” be inserted.
That after the figures “4s.,” paragraph E, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907,’ per gal. (General Tariff), 2s. 8d. ; (United Kingdom), 2s.,” be inserted.
– I move -
That after the word “seed,” paragraph F, the words “and China” be inserted.
– China oil is used as a lubricant. The Minister has given us no explanation of why he, has taken it out of paragraph J.
– I propose to put China oil in this paragraph, because it has come into competition with olive oil for edible purposes, in the same way as has cotton seed oil.
– What is it made from?
– I think it is made from peanuts. The importations during the years 1903 to 1905 were considerable. The following are the figures -
£21,784, so that the quantity is fairly constant.
– China oil is used as an illuminant. This is a very heavy tax on miners and others who use it for their lamps. All the coal miners use it for that purpose.
– They use denaturated oil, which is free.
– Is that quite clear ?
– There is a footnote as follows -
When the Department is in doubt as to the exact nature of any oil so described it shall be denaturated in accordance with the departmental by-laws.
That is what is done if this oil is required for the purpose to which the honorable member for Parramatta refers. It then comes in free, and the miners pay no duty on it. But the Department has to be sure that it is going to be used for that purpose.
.- China oil is a highly refined oil. It is quite true that it is used by miners in their lamps. When the last Tariff was passed, it was admitted at a low rate of duty for that reason, but it was discovered immediately afterwards that that oil, which formerly was somewhat crude, was being highly refined and used for the same purposes as were olive oil and cotton-seed oil. It ought therefore to be in the same category. The denaturated oil is admitted free for use in lamps.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the figures “ 2s.,” paragraph H, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per gallon,1s. 4d.,” be inserted.
Even if this reduction be made, olive oil will get a very stiff protection, whilst, in addition, we have recently passed a very substantial bounty for its production. On the whole, the olive oil industry is doing very well without the imposition of further duties.
– The Tariff Commission’s recommendation of a duty of 2s. a gallon on olive oil should be adhered to. The honorable member for Parramatta is quitemistaken in regard to the bounty on olive oil. The Attorney-General, who was in charge of the Bounties Bill, confirms my recollection that the item was struck out of the Bill.
– Yes; and, on the strength of that, bounties for the production of two or three other oils were also rejected.
– It is therefore hardly fair to urge the bounty which the manufacturers did not get as a reason for reducing the duty.
– It has a very stiff protection without that.
– I do not think so, in view of the value of olive oil, and of the fact that Australia can produce so much of it.
.- I should like to know definitely whether the bounty proposed for olive oil was struck out?
– It was struck out in this House.
.The duty proposed on lubricating mineral oil in the general Tariff is 31/4d. per gallon; and I think that the Government might very well forego the farthing. Having regard to the quantity and quality of the lubricating oil produced in Australia, 3d. per gallon represents a very substantial protection, and I ask the Minister to fix the duty at that amount. This mineral lubricating oil is quite distinct from olive oil, being extensively used wherever engines and machinery are required.
– I feel very much disposed to make the duty 6d. per gallon.
– This is a very good New South Wales industry.
– If it is a good New South Wales industry I suppose we may regard the matter as settled, so far as any hope of a reduction in the duty is concerned. Honorable members just now were very enthusiastic in following the recommendation of the Tariff Commission in the case of olive oil; and I may remind them that the Commission in the case of lubricating oil recommended a duty of 3d. per gallon.
– A large quantity of olive oil is produced in Australia.
– Quite so; but the case of lubricating mineral oil is quite different.
– I am surprised to hear the honorable member for
Kalgoorlie say that mineral lubricating oil cannot be produced in Australia.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said that he did not know of any that was produced here. However, I may inform honorable members that . a considerable quantity of lubricating mineral oil is produced in Australia. One company in my electorate is producing this oil from kerosene shale, and several other companies are likely to be soon in operation. Several large leases of shale country, comprising some 20,000 acres each, have been taken up in the Blue Mountains district, and the enterprise is likely to supply all the oil required in this country. The Commonwealth Oil Company turns out black and blue oils, which are equivalent to solar, residual, and lubricating oils, to the amount of about 3,000,000 gallons per annum, and it is hoped that that output will be increased to 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 gallons at the end of this or the beginning of next year. Such enterprise is entitled to some consideration when we are dealing with the Tariff; and the present duty. I may say, is not sufficient to deter foreign manufacturers from dumping their product here. The local manufacturers are quite satisfied with the price of from1s. 3d. to 2s. per gallon, but there is always a danger that when they come into competition, the foreign manufacturers may cut prices. Specific cases have been brought under my notice, in which local companies have lost tenders by this cutting on the part of foreign producers; and thishas gone on to such an extent that the position has had to be seriously considered. The Standard Oil Company, and the companies of Sumatra and other places, are able to produce so cheaply that they can afford to cut prices. Iwish to emphasize the point that prices are not cut in the ordinary way of business, but only when these foreign manufacturers are called upon to tender against local people. If these oil deposits are to be developed, our own people must be protected against unfair competition ; because, if the foreign producers succeed in disabling the local industry, the people of Australia will ultimately have to pay the piper. In my opinion, nothing less than 6d. per gallon will be of any material assistance ; and such a duty would not have the effect of increasing the price to the consumer”. All that the local producers desire is to be assured of the local market at present rates. I may say that the total importation into Australia is about 4,000,000 gallons of heavy oils, including lubricating, solar, and residual oils and spirit such as naphtha, benzine, and motor spirit. It will thus be seen that our output of oil is now nearly equal to Australia’s requirements, and will greatly exceed that quantity a few months hence. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie seemed to think that the manufacture of lubricating mineral oils in Australia is a negligible quantity.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The honorable member referred to the industry as practically nonexistent; but I suppose he is making a special plea on behalf of the miners of Western Australia. I may say that the oil companies in my electorate employ some 1,300 men, and pay about . £13,000 in wages every month.
– But these men are employed in building a railway.
– Only a small number of them are employed on the building of the railway ; and a railway must be built before the shale can be got to market. This is one of the largest industries in Australia at the present time, and is wellworthy of consideration; and, were it not for unfair competition, I should not be now pleading for an increase in the duty. The oil companies have undertaken additional work, with a view to protection under the. Tariff; and I hope that those interested will not be disappointed.
– I move -
That the words “ including Cloth Oil,” paragraph M, be left out.
I propose to put this oil under item 235, and thus make it free.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the figure “ 3d.,” paragraph O, the. words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, free,” be inserted.
I do not suppose there is much need to debate this proposal ; and I, therefore, content myself by simply moving it.
.- I should like to know what attitude the Government propose to take on this amendment. For my part, I am going to support the duty.
– Hear, hear.
– I think this is a very justifiable duty, and if we strike it out we shall simply play into the hands of the great Standard Oil Trust. Much capital is already invested in Melbourne in this industry ; and I, along with other honorable members, have visited the works of the British Imperial OilCompany, and seen the whole process. Employment is given to a large number of men, and the whole of the tins and cases required are manufactured on the spot. I saw the oil tested, and since then I have used it in my own home, and found it smokeless and quite equal to an incandescent gas. The British Imperial Oil Company, to which I refer, has made as good a fight as it possibly could against the largest Trust in the world; and I point out that the duty is not really on the oil, but on the tins and cases. The oil is importedby this company in bulk from Great Britain, and not from America.
– Not from Great Britain.
– From within the Empire.
– From Borneo.
– The company did import some oil from Russia, but that importation is not going on now, because the quality of the oil was found to be so bad as to damage the trade.
– Here is a protectionist supporting the black labour of Borneo !
– I am supporting the white labour of Australia. This oil is imported in bulk, and pumped from the ships into tanks of about 1,000.000 gallons capacity, at the works at Williamstown. Considerable employment is given, and the oil is sold at twopence lessper gallon than the oil of the Standard Oil Trust. I understand that not only Mr. Campbell but several others, came out from America and distributed themselves over Australia, on behalf of the Standard Oil Company. and endeavoured to ‘ bring about the defeat of the British ImperialOil Company. That is their object, and if once they achieve it every settler in the back blocks will be compelled to pay considerably more for his kerosene than he has paid hitherto.
– Who is at the back of the British Imperial Oil Company ? Is it not Rothschild?
– A great section of the Australian people are behind that company.
– They will help Rothschild, I suppose, in preference to Rockefeller, and feel quite interested in doing so?
– Is not Rothschild interested in the Standard Oil Trust? Further, that Trust has instituted a system of rebates or secret commissions, against which this Parliament has legislated. They have offered a rebate to the retailers throughout the Commonwealth to induce them to dispose of no oil other than that produced by them. The British Imperial Oil Company, on the other hand, provide employment for Australian workmen. If the present duty be removed these persons will be thrown out of employment, and only the Standard Oil Trust will be benefited.’
– Will not the British Imperial Company still have to compete with the Standard Oil Trust in other parts of the world?
– At the present time that company is chiefly interested in Australia.
– It does a far bigger business outside the Commonwealth.
– Surely we ought to stand by the British Imperial Oil Company, and refuse to allow it to be crushed by the greatest combine in the world?
– It will not be crushed if it loses the Australian trade.
– May I remind the honorable member that the annual importation of kerosene into the Commonwealth amounts to over 16,000,000 gallons. That would be a very good trade for this particular company to secure.
– But there are other companies in existence in New South Wales.
– Then why not protect them by means of a duty ?
– The duty is not upon the oil, but upon the cases, and the tins which’ contain it. I sincerely trust that the Committee will show that it has the welfare of Australian industries at heart, and that it will do what it can to cripple the operations in the Commonwealth of the great Standard Oil Trust.
.- The honorable member for Riverina grew very heated over two of the most powerful trusts in existence. They are both poor devils, and I only wish that I had half of their disease. It is true that the British Imperial Oil Company brings oil to Australia in tank steamers, but what labour does it employ? For the purpose of discharging the cargo of one of these vessels a fair-sized pump and two Malays will suffice. But it costs the Standard Oil Trust about£800 to discharge a similar quantity of oil. The latter undoubtedly provides more employment in Australia than does the former. I have : seen the British Imperial Company’s tank steamers unloading in Port Jackson, and all the labour that they employed was two Malays-
– The honorable member has been absolutely misinformed.
– I have seen what I describe with my own eyes.
– The honorable member has not seen Malays pumping.
– If they were not Malays, they were Asiatics of a low type. The labour carried by these vessels is the lowest paid in the world.. I support the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta to admit the oils specified in paragraph 0 free of duty.
– What I am concerned about is’ the company which is producing oil here.
– A duty of 3d. per gallon will not help that company.
– It will be of no use whatever.
– I say that the transhipment of tinned kerosene provides more employment in the Commonwealth than does the transhipment of oil in bulk from tank steamers.
.- This matter has been discussed as though it affected only the interests of two companies
– They mesmerize the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The Treasurer suggests that we are influenced by the Standard Oil Trust. That is an infamous thing to say. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the remark if it is considered objectionable.
– The proposed tax on kerosene, which is one of the most unpopular duties in the schedule, will bear very heavily upon the public. Kerosene is very largely used innearly every household in the country, and oil of the best quality must be obtained. It may be very well to suggest that one oil is as good as another, but in my own household they will not use any but the best oil, because inferior oil gives off a smoke which is objectionable from a health point of view, and blackens the ceilings. In my opinion, a duty of 3d. per gallon on oil imported in tins containing less than 10 gallons would not secure the object in view. The effect of that duty will be that the Standard Oil Trust will import its oil in bulk, with the result that there will be a diminution of the labour employed here in connexion with its landing and distribution.
– There is more employment given in the handling of the cases than would be created by the tinning and the casing of the oil here.
– Undoubtedly there is. If more oil were imported in bulk, less employment would be given locally. The importation of the oil in tins has become almost necessary, because it is so convenient, and the public are, by long usage, so accustomed to it. In the interests of the people and of the great mining community we should restore kerosene to the free list.
.- The honorable member for Riverina slated that he is in favour of a White Australia; but the company which he says should bring oil to Australia produces it by the aid of black labour, employing only ten white persons?
– In Sumatra.
– How many white men are there at their works at Williamstown ?
– Practically all the labour employed in the production of the oil is black labour. It may be all very well for places like Sydney or Melbourne to have oil brought in bulk; but in places like Fremantle and Brisbane, it is more convenient to have it brought in tins, because it enables vessels to come with a part cargo of kerosene and loaded up with other goods on which only reasonable freights are charged, because of the profit made on the carriage of the kerosene. The honorable member for Macquarie spoke about voting for the duty because oil is produced here, but his figures were somewhat confusing. He said that there are 1,300 men employed by the Commonwealth Oil Company. Assuming that they are paid 10s. a day each, the company’s daily wages’-sheet shows a payment of £650, or a yearly expenditure of £195,000. ‘ But their output of oil, he says, is 3,000,000 gallons per annum,, so that the labour cost is about is. 4d. per gallon. Yet, in spite of that, he says that the company would be satisfied if it were getting about1s. 4d. a gallon for its oil. Figures like those are quite unconvincing. I shall vote to make kerosene duty free.
– The party to which I belong has always voted against the imposition of duties on kerosene and tea, because those commodities are so largely used by the working classes. I am entirely opposed to increasing the taxation of those who can least afford to pay taxes. I feel convinced that the imposition of a duty .of 3d. per gallon on oil- imported in tins will not make that oil any dearer to the people of Australia. It will, as a matter of fact, lessen its price. Of course, some honorable members laugh at this statement, but they laugh,, too, when evidence is produced showing that the effect of duties upon goods which can be manufactured here has been, by increasing the local competition, to lower prices. We, in Australia, know of the wide ramifications of the great Standard Oil Trust, which has now such a hold upon the kerosene trade of the world that it can dictate to buyers and sellers alike the conditions under which this commodity must be traded in. Until within the last seven years the Trust had no competitor in Australia. I have little sympathy with the British Imperial Oil Trust, whether it is or is not run by the Rothschilds. But if the two trusts are sharks it is better to keep them employed in Australia fighting each other than to give the whole field to one of them. No doubt I may lose votes by supporting the duty on oil imported in tins; but that consideration weighs little with me when I know my cause to be just. We have been told that less employment will be given if oil be imported in bulk than is given now, when it is brought here in tins ; but it is not necessary to disprove a statement of that kind. My common sense tells me that twice, if not three times, as much employment will be given in Australia if .the oil comes here in bulk, to be tinned and cased locally, than is given now, when it comes in tins. The representatives of Western Australia are opposed to this duty, but apparently they are not aware that the Standard Oil Company charges 50 per cent, more for kerosene in Western Australia than in Victoria. ‘But if the proposed duty is imposed, and the British-Imperial Oil Company opens works at Fremantle, the price of the Standard Oil Company’s oil will be reduced to meet the competition. While the Standard oil is now being sold in Victoria at 8s. a case, it is sold in Western Australia for anything between 10s. and 12s. a case.
– I have positive proof of it.
– If the honorable member’s other statements are no better than that, they are worth nothing.
– The honorable member for Fremantle on one occasion made a speech full of what he said were facts, though no one would accept them as such, and his statements, having been disproved, he wishes to disprove mine. . Honorable members are very ready to profess themselves eager to reduce the price of kerosene in the interests of the poor worker; but I ask free-traders, who say that competition is the soul of business, whether prices will not be lower with competition in the field than if, by the taking off of the duty, it is brought to an end?
.- When the last Tariff was before the House, every member of the Labour Party tried manfully to bring about what was termed a free breakfast table, and to secure the free importation of kerosene; but on this occasion none of them has raised his voice in the interests of the working .man. They appear to have lost all concern in him. The imposition of a paltry duty of 3d. per gallon has been proposed to protect a local industry, it is said. But it will have no such effect. If the local industry is to be protected, the duty must be much higher. As a matter of fact; kerosene should be admitted duty free. No class uses more kerosene than does the working class, and it will have to pay this duty, if it be imposed.
– If the duty be not imposed, competition will be crushed out, and the workers will have to pay more for their oil.
– I regret that the Government is neglecting the . interests of the working man, which they profess to study. I shall vote for free kerosene.
.- As I have paired on this question, I wish to explain my position in regard to the proposal of the Government. I am in favour of the duty, because I wish to keep down the price of kerosene to the consumers. I have gone carefully into the whole matter, and am convinced, from inquiries I have made, and from my visits to the Williamstown works - I shall not weary honorable members by detailing all that I have seen and heard - that the result of doing away with the small duty proposed will be to increase the price of kerosene. The statement of the honorable member for Dalley, that less employment will be given if oil be imported in bulk, is wide of the mark. He has not taken into account all the labour employed, not only in pumping the oil from the ships to the factory, and in filling the tins, but in providing and preparing the wood for the cases, and in making the cases and tins, to say nothing of carting. If the duty be not imposed, the only real competitor which the Standard Oil Trust has in Australia will be crushed out, when an increase in the price of kerosene will follow.
– The price of oil has gone up 3d. since the duty was imposed.
– The honorable member for Echuca said he would stand by the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, and the proposal of the Government is based on one of the Commission’s recommendations. If he votes against the duty, he will do what he has professed himself anxious to avoid doing, he will make it necessary for the people in the country districts to pay more for their kerosene two years hence than they are paying now.
.- An attempt has been made to prove that the duty is protective in its incidence, but, in my opinion, it is not. We have been piling up duties to an enormous extent. That is proved by the returns presented to-day, which show that in five months the revenue has been increased by between£800,000 and £900,000 over the normal returns. There may be some truth in the statement that the British-Imperial Oil Company has lost a lot of money here. It has been spoken of as the Rothschild Company, while the Standard Oil Trust is known as one of Rockefeller’s combinations. They are two of the wealthiest companies in the world, and we may very well let them look after themselves. But I do not wish to wreck the prosperity of this country by the imposition of duties which are too heavy. If I thought that the proposed duty would really be protective, and would give a large amount of labour, I should vote for it. But I think that it. will have no protective incidence, and, in view of the state of the revenue, and the large amount of taxation which the public is now being called upon to bear, we should not continue to heap taxes upon the people. Therefore I shall vote to make kerosene free.
.- I think that before we go to a vote we should hear the views of the honorable member for Bendigo, because this duty has been recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission, and is no doubt supported by good evidence. I feel very strongly on this item because Iam quite in accord with the views of the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I challenge the honorable member for Fremantle to deny that since the British Imperial Oil Company began their operations here the price of kerosene oil has been reduced to the people of Australia.
– No; theprice has gone up, as I shalI prove to-morrow.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that the price has gone up. I object to the statement that only two or three men are employed by the company at Williamstown, because, including the distributers, 400 persons are employed in connexion with those works alone. I am talking not of what I have heard, but of what I have seen.
– The honorable member seems to be excited.
– I am excited because I am surprised to find that when a British company - and I do not care if they have behind them all the Rothschilds - are trying to fight the biggest Trust in the world - an octopus which has its tentacles on the trade and commerce of Australia - honorable members seem inclined to brush on one side their request for a little help to sustain them in an industry which is giving employment to Australians, and to say, “ Oh, only two or three wharf laborers will get more work if we remove this duty.” Will the honorable member for Dalley say how many men would get employment in supplying the wood and in making tins and boxes if the whole of the 16,000,000 gallons of kerosene were imported in bulk and tinned here?
– The honorable member forgot to include the persons who burn the oil.
– Ihave burned both kinds of kerosene oil. The oil of the British Imperial Oil Company if tested on the table to-night, would produce as brilliant a light without smoke as would the other oil.
– No; we would go out of the chamber.
– The company have candidly admitted that they got from Russia one shipment which was very unsatisfactory because it smoked ; but the oil which they are now importing and intend to import in the future is perfectly clear, and gives a light as bright as does an incandescent gas light, and, moreover, it is id. a gallon cheaper to the consumer than is the American oil. Why should we force the consumers to pav 2d. a gallon more for the oil which thev use in the bush bv removing this duty and -so crushing out the British company? I hope that the honorable member for Bendigo will give the Committee the benefit of his knowledge.
– Have we not heard enough of these rival companies?
– The right honorable member used to think, a« I think now, that Australia stood first and the Standard Oil Trust second.
– Western Australia stands first-
– Western Australia stands first now with the right honorable member. I arn thinking not of that State alone, but of the whole continent, its people, and its industries. This is an industry which if assisted and sustained would progress and provide more and more employment for our people as tin:f went on. This duty is imposed not on the kerosene,, but on the tins and cases, which are made in America. We want the oil to be imported in bulk and the tins and cases made by our own- people. I trust that the honorable member for Bendigo will tell the Committee why the A section of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of the duty.
.- I did not intend to speak on this matter. The honorable member for Riverina has put the case as strongly as I could do from’ every stand-point. I intend to support the duty, which I hope will be carried. It was recommended on the Tariff Commission ,by two very eminent and influential Labour members - Senator McGregor and exSenator Higgs - who were of opinion that if imposed it would tend not to increase the cost of kerosene to the -consumer, but to maintain a healthy competition between two great companies. Thev considered tHat it was most undesirable that the Standard Oil Company should have a monopoly of the kerosene trade pf Australia. They believed that we should if possible lend a helping hand to the British Imperial Oil Company, who have established vast works at Williamstown, and helped to maintain a stan-. dard price for the article. I think that on these grounds the duty ought to be supported by those who “are in favour of main-, taining a. healthy competition, especially by a British company as against that octopus, tire world-wide Standard Oil Company. I have been given to understand that a considerable amount of British capital is invested in the British Imperial Oil Company.
– Where are their mines?
– Whether their mines are on British or Asiatic soil is not the chief consideration. The ‘ fact that they are operated by British capital guides me in endeavoring to give them some assistance and support. I may mention that already this proposition has had a very healthy effect on the Standard Oil Company. So far as I can gather from their correspondence they indicate an intention to tin and case their oil here. Their . only complaint is that they have not had time in which to dispose of the tinned kerosene, but if that concession is made they will be able to come here,, and lay down an installation for the purpose of doing their tinning and packing here- I” have gathered that information from- a letter which I have just read. I believe that the imposition of the duty will not result in an increased price, but will assist’ in maintaining healthy competition between the two companies, and causing more labour to be employed in the handling .of the oil.
, - The last statement of the honorable member for Bendigo completely answers the contention of the honorable member for Riverina and the honorable’ member for Laanecoorie. Those two honorable members said that they want this duty to be imposed in order to save the British Imperial Oil Company from the clutches of an octopus, the Standard OiCompany. The honorable member for Bendigo, however, says that the latter company are willing to come here, so that by the Imposition of the duty my honorable friends will not save the BritishImperial Oil Company from their clutches.
– If the duty is kept on it will.
– No, that will simply bring the two companies to closer’ grips, and put them on even terms. If this tremendous octopus company can beat the British-Imperial Oil Company they. will maintain their supremacy when they establish works here. The evidence, however, shows that the British-Imperial Oil Company have, so far,competed satisfactorily with the Standard Oil Company.
– Will not the Standard Oil Company give work for Australians if they comehere ?
– My information is that the StandardOil Company will not give more work.
– They must give more work if they tin the oil here.
– I am told that more labour is employed in bringing the oil here in tins and cases than would be employed if it were tinned and cased here. I would point out to the honorable member for Riverina that the company on whose behalf he has spoken is not a British company, as he stated, but a Straits Settlements Company.
– It is a London company.
– I am told that all the work is done in the Straits Settlements and by black labour, too. Honorable members who have been declaiming against the Standard Oil Company to-night went beside themselves the other night in declaiming against the importation of Rangoon candles. “These candles,” they said, “are made in India, and therefore we must impose prohibitive duties.” Now it seems that they are quite in favour of admitting free keroesne oil produced by black labour in the Straits Settlements. Their conduct does not seem to be quite consistent. Black, labour in the Straits Settlements is surely just as badas black labour in Rangoon.
– What has that to do with the white keroseneindustry in Australia?
– Rangoon candles had everything to do with the white candles industry in Australia. The honorable member is constantly declaiming against the black labour of the world and the products which they send here, but now he is welcoming a product of black labour, because forsooth it is handled here by a few white individuals.
– Do the Standard Oil Company employ white labour? Do they not employ niggers?
– Iunderstand that for the most part the Standard Oil Company employ white labour. I know nothing about the company, and in view of the Minister’s statement to-night, although it was formally withdrawn at the direction of the Chairman, I think it is necessary to say that I have never met one of their representatives. I have no sympathy with this huge trust in any shape or form. But I have a genuine sympathy with those persons in Australia who have been paying more for their kerosene since this duty was imposed.
.- Unlike the honorable member for Parramatta, I know the representatives of the British Imperial Oil Company, and have met the representative of the Standard Oil Trust. -My desire has been to ascertain the exact truth in connexion with both companies. It is needless for me to assure honorable members that I have no interest in them, either directly or indirectly. I am quite satisfied that they are well able to look after their own interests. I think that the Committee should not vote on this question without definite knowledge. This morning I ascertained that the British Imperial Oil Company Limited consist of 2,000 shares, of which the Asiatic Petroleum Company Limited hold 1,993 shares.
– Order! If I allow the honorable member to go into details concerning one company, I must allow that privilege to other honorable members, and a debate may arise as to the status of the company.
– I rise to a point of order. Several honorable members have broadly stated that the British Imperial Oil Company are not a British company, but are owned and controlled by the Rothschilds and others. I submit that the honorable member for Kooying is entitled to show that their statements are not correct.
– Several honorable members have mentioned the names of different companies, and said that they were not this, that, or the other, but the honorable member for Kooyong was going into the details of a company when he began to refer to their share list, and if he is allowed to make that reference the discussion may embrace a great deal more than the share list. If I allowed a discussion to follow on that, it would eventually drift into a debate on the status of the two companies.
– I have no other object than to assure honorable members as to the exact position. It ought to be made clear that the company is, essentially, just like any other foreign company. The statement that it is an entirely British company is not correct. I will not go into details, but may state that the matter has been dealt with by a Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, who considered that under the circumstances there is no justification or need for this duty. It is my intention to vote for free kerosene.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 235. Oils, in bulk or otherwise, viz. : - Birch Tar Oil; Pine; Fir Tree; Unrefined Fish Oils; China Oil when denaturated as prescribed by Departmental by-law; Seal; Whale; Penguin; Petroleum (crude); Degras; Sod; WoodNaphtha; Mirbane; and Turpentine - free.
– I move -
That after the words “Tar Oil,” line 2, the words “ Cloth Oil “ be inserted.
I am informed that cloth oil is used in connexion with wool scouring, and. that -after it has served its purpose, it evaporates, and is of no further use. For that reason, I desire to place it upon the free list.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the words “Wood Naphtha,” lines 5 and 6, be left out.
It will be found that the words “ wood naphtha” are included in item 5A, and that it was determined to make the oil free. There is no necessity for having it in two places.
– Does pine oil mean or include resin oil ?
– Yes; it does.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as. amended, agreed to.
Item 236. Paints and Colours, viz. : -
-I move -
That after the figures “ 4s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “and on and after . 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s. 6d.,” be inserted.
I submit this amendment with a view of moving subsequently that the duty on paints and colours from the United Kingdom be 2s. per cwt. This item includes white lead, and all those staining colours which are ground in oil, and also staining colours which are ground in water. A large number of colours used for scenic purposes are not and cannot be manufactured in Australia.
– Why not?
– Because we have not the necessary pigments, nor is there the machinery for manufacturing from them. Coachmakers’ colours are also included, and they have to be specially prepared. It would be impossible to make anything like Masury’s coach colours in Australia. This is a subject about which I happen to know a good deal.
– The honorable member makes similar statements about all other items.
– I endeavour to inform myself by reading up about other items with which we have to deal, and with which I have no personal acquaintance. But this is a matter about which I did not need to read up. This duty is simply a tax on the raw materials of a great many trades. If is true that a description of white lead has been manufactured in Australia, but it was of poor quality and not anything like up to the accepted commercial standard. There is a quantity of sulphate of lead which is simply a cheap by-product, and has been manufactured in Australia. I have here a letter from a firm, who tell me that they themselves in years gone by, made about 300 tons of it; but they admit that it was an article that was altogether inferior to genuine white lead, and that, if supplied to. the public of Great Britain as such a breach of the law would be committed.
– Is that firm still in existence ?
– And they say that their own manufacture was bad.
– I am not speaking now of colours prepared for use. They are different altogether. They are colours mixed up with oil and turpentine, and ready for use with a brush. What I am referring to are colours ground in liquid, which have to be thinned out with turpentine or with water and size according to whether they are to be used with oil or in distemper. No attempt has been made in Australia to manufacture them. The duty is one which will fall heavily upon the users of these paints, and particularly heavily upon those small contractors who are in the habit of undertaking contracts for painting weatherboard houses and other small works. To obtain a cheap material is a matter of great concern to them. Apart from that, the duty would not help any local industry that has been established, nor would it encourage any industry that is likely to be established.
– There are paint mills in my electorate.
– But they do not manufacture these particular goods.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that Vosz and Company do not ?
– White lead of an inferior quality is made here.
– Some of the best.
– It is impossible for the honorable member to tell me that. I do not think that he will find any architect of standing in Australia who would specify that Australian white lead should be used on any building for which he was responsible. No responsible architect would risk his reputation by specifying that Australian white lead should be used in the painting of any premises where first-class work was required.
– The honorable member’s experience is confined to Sydney.
– Only two or three standard makers are recognised in the whole world. Indeed, practically there is only one maker, whose white lead is specified for good work. This is well known to every one in the trade - to every architect, to every painter, and to every artist. This tax applies not only to white lead, but equally to other colours ground in water, which are largely used for scenic purposes in Australia. They are scarcely used in any other way, except perhaps for very fine decorative purposes. If my amendment be carried, the item will be brought more into line with the Old Tariff, under which a duty of 2s. per cwt. was imposed.
.- This scheme of duties has been very carefully considered, and since it hangs together, I hope that it will not be substantially disturbed.
-These duties have been increased by about 125 percent.
– The duties on paint, ground in liquid, and prepared for use, have been increased for good and sufficient reasons. In the first place, the raw materials of prepared paints - the linseed oil, white lead, and colours - are dutiable.
– My amendment refers to paragraph a.
– We cannot interfere with paragraph a without prejudicing the raw materials of the paints dealt with in the item. I am sure that every protectionist desires the production of linseed in Australia to be promoted, and the whitelead industry to be developed. It is well said that those are the basic elements of paint, and very heavy duties have been imposed upon them. Consequently we must have a heavier duty on the prepared article.
– A lot of these paints are ground in water, and there is no duty on water.
– I am referring to the duties on oil and white lead. Paint cannot be built up without those elements. The paint manufacturers who came before the Tariff Commission in the various States said in effect, “ If you give us our raw materials free, we shall not ask for a duty ; but since there are very heavy duties on our raw materials “ - and it is most desirable that there should be duties on them in order that their production may be encouraged - “ we must have a heavier duty on the finished article, and more particularly upon the superior paints.” Some of them said that they did not desire as heavy a duty on the common grades as they sought on the superior grades, having zinc as a base. This Tariff does not discriminate between the two classes ; it merely imposes duties upon paints ground in oil, and paints completely prepared. If we wish to promote the production of linseed oil and to develop the white lead industry, as well as the production of various colours, we must have these duties. If we break down the first paragraph, the whole scheme will collapse. It is most desirable that linseed oil - and the beginning of its production in
Australia is not far distant - should not be free; if it is we shall not be able to enter upon its production, in commercial quantities. I recognise that a duty on it imposes a burden on the painting trade ; but it may be only a temporary one; and when we have-established the industry of producing linseed oil in Australia we shall be able to make a pro rata reduction in the duty on the complete article. The production of white lead in Australia is progressing, but local prejudice has to be combated.
– I should not like to use any Australian white lead.
– I do not know whether the honorable member is an expert; but I base my remarks on expert evidence given before the Commission.
– The honorable member for Lang understands painting.
– He seems to be a walking encyclopaedia.
– He wants nothing Australian.
– That is unfair.
– Very good white lead has been made in Australia, and, since a preference has been given to it by some of the States Governments, it ought surely to be good enough for private contractors.
– Not necessarily.
– Some very valuable colours are produced in South Australia. I would refer honorable members to the evidence given by John O1 Connell, which appears at page 66 of the Minutes of Evidence. This witness, who asked for. a duty of 40 per cent, was’ asked -
With what sort of colours would you undertake to provide the Commonwealth, suppose you had your 40 per cent. duty. Name the principal?
He replied -
Raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, purple brown (which is red oxide of iron) ; raw oxide, quaker green (three shades), bronze . green, hematite, Oxford ochre, yellow ochre and others.
He produced some of his colours to the Commission, and we were satisfied that large and valuable deposits existed, not only in South Australia, but in other parts of the Commonwealth. We have drawn up a scheme providing for a duty on those colours, and placing on the free list colours not produced in Australia, such as Vandykes, manganese, Letharge blacks, Paris white and vermillions. If we desire to protect the raw materials of the industry, we must retain, at a high standard, the duty on the finished article.
– I was. under the impression that Victoria, in pireFederation days, was a pronounced protectionist State, and as such, one would1 have expected to find that under its Tariff paints were heavily protected. I learn however, that under -that Tariff, they, were dutiable at 40s. per ton., or 2s. per cwt.
– At that time, we had not tried to make it.
– The honorable member has a ready excuse. Victoria did not awaken to the importance of the paint manufacturing industry when it was at the height of its protectionist boom. Prior to Federation, New South Wales was accustomed to have these, and cognate items, on the free list; whilst Queensland had a duty of 3s. per cwt. ; South Australia a duty of 2s. per cwt., and of 4s. per cwt. in the case of the made-up articles ; Tasmania, a duty of Jd. per lb. ; and Western Australia a duty of .10 per cent. Under the first Federal Tariff, the duty under this item was 2s. per cwt., and the Government now propose to raise it to 4s. 6d. on foreign imports, and to 4s. per cwt. on. imports from Great Britain. Having enjoyed for five years an increase of 200 per cent, on the old Victorian Tariff, paint manufacturers here, instead, of being able to show that their industry is a flourishing one, are asking for more protection, and the Treasurer offers them a still further increase of 250 per cent The honorable member for Bendigo says that these proposals have been very carefully considered, and I must certainly admit that the paint manufacturers have been . most carefully considered. But what about those who use paint? To my mind, the honorable member for Bendigo gave away his case when he said that the excessive duties upon the raw materials of the paint-making industry, made it necessary to impose a high duty on the finished article. That being so, this cannot be called a scientific Tariff.
– We have npt yet dealt with the duty on white lead: .
– No; and that is one of the basic elements of paint. The honorable member for Lang has touched the real point at issue. If we impose this heavy duty upon the finished article, we shall severely tax the coachpainter and others who use paints of this kind. In the report of the protectionist section of the
TarifF Commission, appears the following startling statement in regard to the local manufacture of white lead, which the honorable member for Bendigo says we ought to encourage -
The manager of a paint and oil company in Sydney bad seen samples of white lead that were said to have been manufactured in Sydney. Thev could not compare with the imported article so far as colour was concerned. Locally produced white lead turned yellow after standing a given time, while the imported article keeps its colour much longer. The defect did not lie in the local lead or zinc, but in manufacture, which, in his opinion, experience would tend to remedy.
The Committee are asked to place a heavy duty on prepared paints, so that in the days to come, an improved white lead may be produced in Australia. I believe that the proper way to encourage the manufacture of paint would be to place linseed oil, white lead, and the other raw materials of the industry,, either on the free list or under as low a duty as possible. I have many sides to my character as a politician, and I happen to have in my electorate the largest paint manufactory in the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, I do not ask for a duty upon prepared paint, but I would assist the industry in the way I have indicated. The honorable member for Lang very reasonably asks the Treasurer t’o’ revert to the duty imposed under the j 902 Tariff. Surely the Prime Minister «Ould not have agreed to an increase of 250 per cent, on that duty, when he knows that in protectionist Victoria, in the palmiest days of protection, no more than 2s. was asked. The honorable member for Lang proposes a duty of 25 per cent, in excess of that dutv, and I must say that it is rather rash of the honorable member as a freetrader to make such a proposal
– I make it only because I. do. not think I could carry a lower duty.
– I intend to support the honorable member. If. we wish to give assistance to manufacturers of paint, we should do so by reducing the duties on white lead and1 linseed oil. The Tariff Commission reported-
The manager of a white-lead company, which manufactured direct from the raw sulphide which was obtained from Tasmania, New South Wales, and South. Australia, asked the Commission “ to inquire into certain statements so that a new industry in the Commonwealth might not, be closed by the wealthy companies of Europe.”
The honorable member for Bendigo, apparently, is prepared, to upset the whole scheme of the Tariff on behalf of this Tasmanian. company.
– It was not a Tasmanian company. The company only imported materials from Tasmania.
– I am going, by. the Tariff Commission’s report.
– Let us get on or we shall have to sit late.
– What does that matter, if we are fighting in the interests of the public? If I were fighting for the little paint manufacturing industry in my electorate the Treasurer would be cheering me. He objects when I am fighting in the ‘interests of the users of the article. -
– The honorable member is only talking against time.
– That is not fair, in view of the fact that the Treasurer, after fighting for three hours over the_duty on kerosene, was afraid to go to a division on the item and have a vote against the Government recorded, and for that reason asked leave to withdraw the call for a division. Although paint is being manufactured in my electorate ! am prepared to vote for the lowest duty
.- The honorable member for Bendigo no doubt inadvertently forgot, whilst quoting from the evidence given by Mr. Clarkson, to point out that as a manufacturer that gentleman stated that the local demand for paint was too. small to warrant the employment of the skilled labour necessary in the production of locally-manufactured white lead, if there was to be any hope that an article would be produced which would approach in quality the standard of the imported: article.
– That reference was to the South Australian demand.
– That might be so, but if the manufacturer in question had command of the whole of the Australian market it must not be forgotten, that the manufacturers of the imported article have the whole world for a market, and are therefore much better able to employ the highest skill and the best machinery in. the manufacture of the article.
– The reference was to oxide colours and not to white lead, so that the honorable member is misquoting Mr. Clarkson.
– The honorable member is not correct. Mr, Clarkson refers to an insufficient margin in regard to white lead. I point out, further, that those engaged iri the manufacture of paint follow a very unhealthy occupation, and require to have special provision made for them with respect to ventilation, exercise, food, and also special baths.
– It is not an industry we need seek to encourage.
-That is so. It is further said that one reason why they have failed to produce this to any extent in Australia is, that the plant to treat it properly is too expensive, in view of the limited local demand. A Mr. Borthwick, another manufacturer, contradicts the statement made’ by the honorable member for Bendigo concerning siennas and umbers, at page 78 of the evidence. He says that siennas and umbers, as well as other colours, have not yet been found in Australia. In addition to the high duty, the Victorian Government gave a subsidy to Messrs. Patterson Brothers, I think of this city, who claimed to have discovered suitable pigments for making colours on their property. This attempt to foster the industry collapsed, and the Government foreclosed on the machinery mortgaged to it to cover the subsidy. The honorable member for Bendigo referred chiefly to colours ground in oil. I do not think the honorable member made any reference to the numerous colours ground in water. As water is free, the honorable member could not claim that those colours, in a manufactured condition, should be subject to a duty because the ingredients used in mixing them are subject to duty. Here are a few of these colours which occur to my mind at the present time : . ultramarine, cobalt, Prussian blue, carnation paste, emerald green, Brunswick green, brown lake, carmine, chrome yellows, chrome green, Dutch pink, celestial blue, azure blue, flake white, sienna umber, Vandyke brown, and vermilion. I think with a little consideration, I could name half a hundred different colours, none of which are manufactured,- or likely to be manufactured, in Australia, because the pigments from which they are manufactured are not obtained here.
– We could import the pigments.
– These pigments are ground, on the spot where they are found, in water, and the preparation is hermetically sealed in bottles or tins for export to various parts of the world. There would not be the local demand for these colours in Australia to warrant their manufacture here, even though the pigments were imported in bulk.
.- I wish to correct a misquotation by the honorable member for Lang. Of course, the honorable member was not aware that he was misquoting Mr. Clarkson’s evidence; but if he will look at the evidence again, he will find that he represented that gentleman as saying precisely the opposite of what- he did say. The honorable member attributed to Mr. Clarkson the statement that the demand for white lead in Australia is insufficient to make it worth while to manufacture the article here. Mi”. Clarkson did not say anything of the. kind. What he said was that the onlypigments being produced in South Australia were iron oxides.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– Question 53421, page 72 of the evidence. Mr. Clarkson, there said -
There is only .1 limited use for the oxide colours.
The reference was not to white lead, and, speaking of the oxide colours, Mr. Clarkson said he did not think the output would warrant the expenditure .that would be involved in getting the necessary men. He went on to say that he could obtain some good colours, that he did not desire a duty on dry colours, but would not object if any one else proposed such a duty, and would be inclined to support it. It will be found that Mr.’ Clarkson referred to white lead in the evidence reported at question 53430, and honorable members will see that he suggested that the duty should be 25 percent, instead of 2s. per cwt. He went on to pay that he had seen good white lead made in Australia. In a circular, which no doubt honorable members have received,, speaking of Vosz and Company, of which he is manager, he says-
We have during the last twelve months spent ^15,000 in land, buildings, and plant at Port Adelaide, and have now an up-to-date plant for the manufacture of all classes of paint and white lead, and the duties as fixed in the last Tariff give us more encouragement for manufacture than the previous Tariff.
He goes on to say -
Our industry promises to be a most important one, and w’e are gradually increasing our output. We find the prejudice against the Colonial article gradually disappearing as the public discover they can get an article equal to imported at lower rates. . . . We believe that we are at present the only white lead corroders in Australia, and are now turning out a product in every way equal to the imported article, and during the next month or so we will be able to place on the market quantities. There is fierce competition in this line, and there should lie a big industry open for Australia.
In view of these facts’ I am warranted in believing that the honorable member for Lang will take the first opportunity to apologize to Mr. Clarkson for having attributed to him the statement that the demand in Australia was so small as not to warrant the employment of skilled men in .the industry. Mr. Clarkson, in his circular, goes on to say -
We purchase our raw material from Broken Hill, and the duty, as now fixed, gives us a margin in which to meet foreign competition.
We put a duty on linseed oil, one of the raw materials of this industry, and we should now complete the scheme proposed by the TarifF Commission, and enable white lead to be successfully manufactured in the Commonwealth. As to other colours, a variety is produced at the Blumberg mine, South Australia, and in various parts of the Commonwealth. The secretary to the Blumberg mine, Mr. O’Connell, gave pretty lengthy evidence before the Commission as to the necessity for a duty to enable the company to compete against wealthy British companies. The industry is well worth establishing, and will undoubtedly be established in every State in the Commonwealth. There is therefore no likelihood of a monopoly in the manufacture of paints. There will be pretty fierce local competition, and instead of prices being increased for more than a very temporary period, it is almost certain that as the result of the building up of the industry here, prices will be kept very much lower than they would be > likely to be should the industry be crushed out, as it would be if these duties are not imposed.
.- In view of the large increase of duty proposed over the rate in .the former Tariff on this item, and the important part that paints play in matters concerning the welfare of the people, I desire to bring under notice two letters which I have received. The first is from the. firm of Wm. Young and Company, Melbourne, who state - ‘
In spite of some hysterical articles in our local press, we can confidently assert that genuine white lead as recognised in Great Britain is not yet an article of manufacture here. A quantity of sulphate of lead, which is a cheap by-product, has been manufactured here - we ourselves in years gone by have utilized about 300 tons of the same. It is an article altogether inferior in covering power to genuine white lead, and, if offered to the public in Great Britain as such, would be a breach of the law.
– That is a slander on the Australian product. The honorable member ought not to read such slanders.
– The letter was sent to “me, and I quote it in good faith. It is a matter of the utmost importance, in the case of an expensive item so widely used, that we should have an article of good quality. The other letter comes from the Melbourne Steamship Company and the Duke’s Dock and Engineering Company, and deals with ships’ paints.
– That question comes under paragraph b.
– Then I will read the letter later. I do not say that the Australian paint is inferior, but I know that it makes a great deal of difference to people who go to large expense in renovating buildings or putting up new structures if they use a paint that will stand the weather. An inferior paint is absolutely worse than useless. It has a bad’ effect upon the property, it is a disappointment all round, and we should not by any legislative means seek to force its use upon the people of this country.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) [10.3L- I cannot allow this attack on the Australian production to pass without giving it a flat contradiction. It has originated from a person, evidently an importer, who is interested in damaging the reputation pf Australian white lead. I have here, -riot the statement of an interested individual, but a certificate given by Mr. Henry C. Jenkins, the Government Metallurgist of Victoria, as follows -
I have now to report that .the sample of lead for a white -paint, left after an interview, on your instructions, by the Australian White Lead Company, was analyzed and proved to contain within 0.3 of being pure. The sulphate of lead, that is the result of their process, is a very suitable substance for a paint, and. is produced under conditions favouring a fine state of division, and that quite forbid the presence of free sulphuric acid. Tests were made to discover its covering power, as compared with that of the best white lead obtainable in Melbourne ; it was tested for any foreign material, such as baryta, and was found to be pure. Two “ sets of comparative tests were made, and measured quantities of the oils, &c, employed in the paints, were taken in each test. The paint was employed upon wooden’ surfaces and upon glass, in order to see the actual body of the coating when dry. One set was with boiled linseed oil, and the other with raw linseed oil, all other things being equal, and that the covering power of the resulting paint was nearly equal in the two cases for whiteness and body, the balance being still rather in favour of the sulphate of lead, as against the white lead of commerce, which is, as is well known, a basic carbonate.
I quote that as a refutation of the slanders which have been circulated.
– All the manufacturers like to get their raw material free, but unfortunately in practically every instance the raw material of one industry is the finished article of another. The question of paints and their constituent parts is so complicated that it is hard to discover what is really the basic raw material. The worst of it is that each manufacturer concerned wants his raw material free, and each condemns the Australian-made raw material, saying, “ I have to compete with the rest of the world in the Australian market, and must get the best material to use. in producing my manufactured article. Therefore, I must import it.” The manufacturer of white lead in Australia assures us, and backs up his assurance with a certificate, quoted by the honorable member for Bendigo, from a gentleman duly qualified to express an opinion, that the article which he is producing is as good as, if not superior to, the imported -white lead. Unfortunately, the man who uses white lead in making paint, being interested, condemns the Australian white lead. He says, “ I want imported colouring material if I. am to give my customers the paints which they demand. I must also have imported white lead.” The manufacturer of colours in Australia shows us that he* is quite competent to produce the best’ colours, having men here who are qualified through experience in other parts of the world. The honorable member for Lang stated that it was impossible to make these colours in Australia. He enumerated all the colours of the rainbow, from elephant’s breath to boiled mutton, and told us that they could not be made here. But first-class pigments are produced in South Australia. I am not surprised1 at the honorable- member” for Lang making that statement, because he is a free-trader - a foreign representative.
– I have protested several times against the application to me of the epithet of “foreign representative.” It is offensive, and I ask- that it be withdrawn. I do not apply offensive epithets of that character, to .honorable members opposite.
I am just as much an Australian representative as is the honorable member - perhaps, a- little more.
– I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw the remark which the. honorable member for Lang regards as offensive.
– If the remark is offensive to the honorable member for Lang,. I withdraw it without qualification. I wasnot speaking. in a personal but merely in a political sense. In spite of what the honorable member for Lang says, there is arn establishment in my electorate which is producing first-class colours. I am sure to beasked whether there are any of these’ works* in mv electorate. That is getting rather a. by-word now, but I have voted for the protection of industries. that are not in myelectorate, and I shall certainly .support those that are. That .firm have imported: a man who has had twenty-five years’ experience in England. They can produce any of the colours which the honorable member for Lang says are not made here. They turn out good commercial commodities, which are on the market at the present day. But it is essential, in order that they may keen them upon the. market, that they should have some protection. There are certain portions of their ra wmaterial which they have to import, and., seeing that there is a duty on that, it is necessary that they should get a duty on their manufactured article, which, in its turn, is the raw material of another, industry, so that they may compete with imported articles. Then the house or coach painter,, who uses paints, wants his;’raw material as cheaply as possible. The coachbuilder is strongly protected - I have many in my electorate- 7-and yet he will send us documents to show’ that we must npt ask him to use the Australian article. But the very argument that we have to .adduce to get “him to use it, is the one which we have to urge, in order to get the Australian public to use the finished article which he produces. So that we find the same difficulty all along the line. It matters little to me what the commodity is so long as we can -bring the’ industry in Australia up to a proper standard. There is no process in the manufacture of white lead, or the making of pigments, or the mixing of paints, that cannot be undertaken here. In the newspapers honorable members will see an advertisement to the’ following effect: - “ Mixed .paint. 3d. per tin. Don’t be prejudiced,- ‘ ‘Buy it and give it a trial.”’
That is an imported article. How is it possible to expect our producers of paint to compete with an article of that sort, which we know does not contain an atom of white lead or of linseed oil ?
– What is the condition of the white-lead workers of England ?
– It is lamentable in the extreme. One of the arguments used by the producer of white lead in Australia is that the article which he produces is not poisonous.
– Is not lead, which is the basis of the article, the same in its properties everywhere?
– The honorable member may know how to use paints when they are mixed, but is he scientist enough to know that lead can be treated in such a way as not to be poisonous ? I am assured by those who run this business in Footscray that their treatment of the lead makes it non-poisonous, and that it has no bad effect upon those who handle it. But the individual who uses the paint says, “ That is the very reason why the Australian article is of no use to us.” They practically say that it is no good because it does not kill those who produce it. On the one hand, we are asked, “ What is the condition of those who manufacture the white lead in England?” and we answer, “It is lamentable ; they die at ages when they have no right to die.” Then when we say, “ Here is a commodity that will not poison the workers,” we are told, “It is useless for our purposes.” We do not expect any assistance from free-traders in this instance, but we desire, and should be able to demand, the votes of all those who came into this House as protectionists.
.- The honorable member for Boothby accused me of having misrepresented or misquoted the evidence of Mr. Clarkson.
– Withdraw the statement, and apologize.
– I have nothing to withdraw. Thehonorable member for Boothby should withdraw his statement, because I did nothing of the kind. I propose to read that evidence a little more fully. I think I fairly gave the sense of what Mr. Clarkson said, as the following quotations from his evidence will show -
What increase of duty do you want on white lead? - I suggested 25 per cent.It is at present 2s. per cwt.
What increase would that be? - About 100 per cent.
Why do you want such a high increase on lead ? - The reason I suggested it was that it would certainly cost a great deal to ‘go in for the manufacture of it, and the necessary experiments, and the margin is not large enough.
Would not the same argument apply to dry colours, seeing that we have the materials? - Yes. But you have all the materials for lead here. You have not all the materials for dry colours.
What material is lacking? - There are many colours we have not so far got the natural earths for. Then you have your colours here, but you have not the output.
I think that bears out exactly what I said about Mr. Clarkson’s evidence, though I did give a summary in order to save time.
– The honorable member for Bendigo has made what I regard as an unjustifiable attack on the honorable member for Echuca.
– I was not attacking the honorable member, but the circular he read.
– The circular said just what the honorable member for Bendigo himself said. Something beyond what the circular said might be inferred, but the fact stated was that the white lead produced here is made from sulphate of lead, and that it cannot be of as good quality as white lead made from carbonate of lead. In that there is no. comparison between Australian and British white lead, because the same statement would apply to the two processes in Great Britain. White lead produced from sulphate of lead is, in the opinion of scientific men, and of users, inferior to white lead produced from carbonate of lead, wherever it may be produced. That was all that was stated in the circular, and it was the statement repeated by the honorable member for Bendigo later. Every statement of the kind made from this side seems to be twisted into a reflection on Australian production. There is much tenderness shown in this relation, although, as I have pointed out, the same comparison could be shown between the two products in Great Britain.. I do not think thatthere ought to be such sensitiveness, or such a disposition to turn all criticism into an attack upon Australian productions. The question whether sulphate of lead or carbonate of lead makes the best white lead is not one involving any. reflection on the Australian product.
– That was not the statement.
– That was the statement - that the white lead made in Australia was from sulphate oflead.
– The circular says that Australian white lead is bad, irrespective of its origin.
– What the circular says is that Australian white lead is produced from sulphate of lead, and is not equal to lead produced from carbonate of lead. The honorable member for Bendigo confirmed that statement, namely, that the Australian was made from sulphate of lead, and white lead made from sulphate of lead is inferior, in the opinion of most authorities, to white lead made from carbonate of lead, wherever the manufacture may be carried on.
– That is not the interpretation which the honorable member for Echuca put on the letter.
– I did not observe that the honorable member for Echuca said anything beyond what was stated in the circular; in fact I heard the honorable member say that he did not know that the white lead produced here was inferior. Whether the opinion expressed, and confirmed by the honorable member for Bendigo, be right or wrong, ‘it is the opinion held by those who ought to know best.
– Divide !
– If honorable members opposite make attacks, they must expect some reply.
– There have been some attacks from the other side.
– I have not heard any attack made by this side on individuals ; although there have been attacks made by the other side on individuals on several occasions. I do not mind debate being created in this way so long as we have the opportunity to reply ; but such debate will not attain what we all desire, namely, an expeditious settlement of the Tariff. The duty recently imposed in New Zealand, under a protective Tariff, is only 2S. 6d., and that is the duty now suggested by the honorable member for Lang.
– The question is not whether Australian white lead is made from carbonate of lead or sulphate of lead; the question is as to the quality of the lead and its covering power. The certificate I read showed that, although the Australian white lead is made from, sulphate of lead, and not from carbonate of lead, its covering power, as tested by the Government Metallurgist, is equal to the best white lead obtainable in Melbourne. The question is not the metallic contents, but the covering power.
– The honorable member for Echuca said nothing to the contrary.
– The circular that was read said that Australian white lead is of inferior quality, and had not the same covering power as imported white lead. I have here another certificate from the Storekeeper of the Newport Railway Workshops, Melbourne, in which he says -
The sample of white lead submitted by you’ for trial at the Newport workshops has been reported on as follows, viz. : - It is soft and fine, and requires little or no grinding, and, weight for weight, will cover a larger surface than the ordinary dry white lead.
– The honorable member for Bendigo is, in my opinion, trying to prove too much.
– I should not have risen but for the reading of the circular.
– I have yet to learn that a chemist is necessarily an expert painter.
– The report just read was not that of a chemist, but that of the Chief Storekeeper at Newport Workshops.
– I do not regard those individual statements as conclusive. First of all, I decline to believe that a metallurgist has necessarily an expert knowledge of the covering qualities of white lead; when he begins to talk about the covering qualities of lead he steps outside his function altogether. The question is one for a practical painter; and experience must be the great teacher. I fancy that covering qualities ultimately depend on the wearing qualities of the lead ; that must be the test. So far from the honorable member for Echuca being singular in the quotation he made to-night, and in the views to which he gave utterance, I have to say that a practical ironmonger, a friend of mine in Sydney - a man of the highest integrity, who has been selling white lead all his life - expressed the same opinion.
– According to the honorable member’s own showing, that man cannot know anything about the covering qualities of white lead.
– I suppose the evidence of this man is worth just as much as that of any other man connected with the business.. Is it suggested that these statements are made out of sheer wantonness? Honorable members ought not to attack people for making statements in all good faith. We are ‘here to discuss these matters, and not to abuse one another. I have never witnessed a more savage attack than that made on the honorable member for Echuca; but I fancy he will be able to live through it all, and, perhaps, ultimately benefit.
– Mr. McDonald-
– Honorable members opposite are talking like a lot of children !
– I would not describe the action of the Treasurer in such favorable terms as those in which he has described ours. The honorable member for Bendigo questions what was stated in the circular quoted by the honorable member for Echuca, and I now desire to read the following sentences -
In spite of some hysterical articles in our local press, we can confidently assert that genuine white lead, as recognised in Great Britain, is not yet an article of manufacture here. A quantity of sulphate of lead, which is a cheap by-product, has been manufactured here - we, ourselves, in years gone by have made about 300 tons of the same. It is an article altogether inferior in covering power to genuine white lead and if offered to the public in Great Britain as such, would be a breach of the law.
That is all the circular says.
– It does not happen to be true.
– What is not true?
– The statement that good white lead is not made in Australia.
– I am not raising that question; I am only pointing out that the letter states that white lead made from sulphate of lead is inferior to white lead made from carbonate of lead, and that that is an opinion confirmed by the highest authorities.
.- The honorable member for North Sydney has stated that he does not know that Australian white lead is used for painting purposes. In my opinion the honorable member has not distinguished between metallic lead and white lead. I would point out to him that in the report of the A section of the Tariff Commission the following statement is made -
In November, 1904, the Victorian Public Works Department specified that Australianmade white lead could be used in their contracts. At that time metallic lead was£131s. 3d. per ton, and instead of a percentage rise in the price of white lead, owing to the increased! cost of the. raw material there was a reduction of over £3 per ton.
I challenge honorable members opposite to refute that statement. I should like to hear what the honorable member for Echuca has to say concerning it. He seems to think that nothing made in Australia can possibly be equal in quality to what is made elsewhere.
– I rise to a point of order. I have never made any such statement as that attributed to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– As the honorable member regards the remark as offensive, probably the honorable member for Corio will withdraw it.
– I should like to know what is regarded as offensive.
– The statement that I have an objection to everything that is Australian.
– I do not regard that statement as an offensive one. It is a fair deduction to make from the honorable member’s attitude in this chamber.
– If the honorable member for Corio insists upon the statement, it is not possible for me to compel him to withdraw it. But when an honorable member takes exception to a statement made by another honorable member it has been customary for the author of the statement, as a matter of courtesy; to withdraw it.
-Then it is a custom which I do not intend to observe on this occasion. I am sorry that the honorable member for Echuca does not like it, and I ask him not to regard my statement as offensive.
– Will the honorable member proceed?
– It is a case of nonsurrender, sir.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has declared that it is not white lead, but metallic lead, which is used in Australia. I hope that he is not super-sensitive, like the honorable member for Echuca-
– I shall not regard anything which the honorable member’ may say as offensive.
– Will the honorable member proceed ?
– If I am to be badgered in thisway, not only by the Opposition, but by the Chair, I cannot continue my argument.
– I have no desire to badger the honorable member, but I would point out that he is holding a conversation with the honorable member for North Sydney.
. -I propose to read some statements in regard to this item which are contained in the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and which eclipse anything that has been said to-night by the honorable member for Echuca. That section of the Commission summarizes the evidence of a gentleman named Finlayson.
– I quoted that summary this evening.
– Then there is no need for me to refer to it again. A few minutes ago the honorable member for Bendigo rose to repel a slander. Why, then, did he incorporate the slander in his own report?
– He referred only to the white lead which is made in Sydney.
– Of course there is a difference between the white lead which is made in Sydney and that which is made in Victoria? It is a slander to reflect upon anything made in Victoria, but quite proper to do so in respect of anything made in Sydney. Have we reached that point? The whole thing is absurd.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put -
That after the figures “4s. 6d.,” paragraph
A, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 3s.,” be inserted.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendments (by Sir John Quick) agreed to -
That after the figures “4s. 6d.,” paragraph
A, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 4s.” ; and that after the figures “ 4s.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 3s. 6d.,” be inserted.
.- The proposed rates of 6s.9d. and 6s., or 25 and 20 per cent, ad valorem, whichever returns the higher duty, on paints and colours prepared for use, will be a very severe impost upon an anti-corrosive paint which is used for ships! bottoms. It is a patented article, prepared by a secret process, and has to be imported, its value being about £150 a ton, whereas ordinary paint costs from £20 to £30 per ton. When the last Tariff was under discussion, on my motion the Government agreed to substitute for an alternative rate the fixed rate of 4s. per cwt. The Government has, by departmental regulation, exempted deep-sea ships on which this paint is used from the payment of duty, and I wish to secure the same exemption for Inter-State vessels.
– I am willing to make the duty on such paint 4s. 6d. and 4s.
– In that case, I give notice of my intention to move the insertion of a new paragraph, imposing duties of 4s. 6d. and 4s. on ships’ anti-fouling composition.
– I move - .
That after the figures “ 6s. 9d.,” paragraph
B, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 6s.,” be inserted ; and that after the figures “ 6s.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom),5s. 3d.,” be inserted.
I move this amendment to bring the rates in paragraph b in conformity with those in paragraph a. I intend subsequently to move an alternative ad valorem rate of 20 per cent.) which is what was suggested by the Tariff Commission, to cover high grades of paint.
– The proposed rate against British importations is 20 per cent.
– I should not object to a 20 per cent, rate all round.
.- No doubt other honorable members have, like myself, received statements from the master coachbuilders and wheelwrights of New South Wales and Victoria, in which they say that last year the imports of foreign-made vehicles were valued at only £9,500, and that the estimated value of vehicles of all classes made in Australia is £2,000,000 per ‘ annum. They are satisfied with the present rates of duty, under which they have, as a matter of fact, been able to establish an export trade, but they object to the increasing of duties on their raw materials.
– Is the honorable member’s information from Victorian manufacturers ?
-It is signed by F. Skinner, W. H. Stevens, Dan White, F. C. Wilmot, and J. W. Waring, on behalf of the Master Coachbuilders’ and Wheelwrights’ Association- of Victoria, and on behalf of a special meeting of Bendigo master coachbuilders, held on the 9th September, 1907 ; while it is signed by G. H. Olding, on behalf of. a special meeting of the Sydney master coachbuilders, held at Sydney on the 23rd August last, and on behalf of eighteen leading New South Wales coachbuilders.
– They ask for protection for their finished products ; but they wish to get their raw material free.
– Most of them are only assemblers of parts. They are not manufacturers in the true sense.
– They use what wood they can get.
– No; they do not. Some of them came to me, and I told them that I would not do what they asked.
– They use a great deal of Queensland and other Australian woods, the only timber imported by them being hickory for shafts and spokes. I have seen dozens of vehicles made in Ballarat and Melbourne very largely from Australian timbers. There is practically no paint ground in liquid, or paint prepared for use, made in this country, although the honorable member for Bendigo says that in time it will be manufactured here. I was concerned in a white lead making company which was started at Footscray, but, although it spent a great deal of money, it could not get on, not for want of a duty, because the price was good enough, but because it could not make a proper article. If we are going to tax the raw material of the coachbuilders-
– Wehave increased the duties on vehicles.
– They have not asked for higher duties on vehicles. Australia can hold its own in that matter.
– Has the honorable member read the Tariff Commission’s evidence on the subject ?
– I know as much about the matter as did the witnesses who came before the Tariff Commission. Years ago the Americans used to send vehicles here, but within the last decade, hardly one has been imported, and I do not think that there are ten imported buggies in Victoria at the present day. Furthermore, the Railway Workshops make the carriages and waggons required for the railways, the wood used in each case being nearly all Australian.
– This has been done under protection.
– Certainly; and I am in favour of protection; but I do not desire to hamper our manufacturers by taxing their raw material. Wecannot produce prepared oils and paints in this country.
– I am opposed to these high rates of duties, and the Minister has given no reason for increasing the duty from 4s. to 6s. 9d., or ad valorem rates of 25 and 20 per cent., whichever may be the higher. To show how this double-barrelled duty works out on paints prepared for use, let me quote the following letter -
Invoice for coach paints just to hand, contents of which are 168 lbs. at the 6s. 9d. per cwt. rate will make the duty 10s. 2d., while under the 25 per cent, rate, it brings the duty up to 38s. 5d., and another lot, weighing 98 lbs.’, at the specific rate the duty would cometo something like 6s., while under the ad valorem duty, the duty comes to 60s. 6d. The figures speak for themselves.
The duty on a certain high-class and highpriced paint imported from England, has been increased, with the result that, instead of having to pay 4s. per cwt., which equals 8d. per gallon, it has to pay 20 per cent., plus 3 0 per cent., which. equals 4s. id. per gallon. Under the old Tariff, this paint was so expensive that it could be used only in good work, such as railway cars, hospitals, ships, &c, and the new dutypracticallly prohibits its use. I hope that . the Minister will consent to a large reduction. I shall support the proposed amendment of the honorable member for Dalley.
.- When the honorable member for Balaclava said that the coachbuilders ask that the duties on their raw materials shall not be in-‘ creased, it was objected’ that they asked for higher duties on their finished products ; but that is not so, because they are satisfied with the old rates in regard to both their vehicles and their raw materials.
Mr. Batchelor. Only some of them.
– I am sorry that the Minister of Trade and Customs is not at the table. He received a deputation, introduced by me, consisting of representatives of the Master Coachbuilders’ Association of VictoriaIt presented telegrams from Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong, and was accompanied by a representative of the Coachbuilders Association, of Adelaide, and the President of the New South Wales Coachbuilders’ Society. It was distinctly stated by the speakers that they did not want an increased duty on the finished article, and were quite satisfied with the protection they had against outside competition. They asked the Minister that the duties in the old Tariff should be allowed to stand. I know nothing about the views of the trade beyond the statements which were made by that representative deputation.
– I suppose the honorable member recollects that .there was a little difference of opinion?
– There was one man who had not been asked to attend, and I understand that he made some representations to the Minister subsequently. But so far as the deputation could be representative, it was.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney) T11-2! - I point out that in this case we are asked to agree to alternative duties - to duties of 6s. and 5s. 3d. respectively, or if those are not high enough to duties of 25 and 20 per cent, respectively.
– That is on the higher grade of paints.
– Yes ; but the percentage on the cheaper paints is very much higher than the percentage on the dearer paints. I do not like these alternative duties, because attempts will be made to evade them. In the case of paints it will be quite impossible in manycases to distinguish them. Where there are great variations in value, as there are in many cases, the ‘Customs officers will have great difficulty in distinguishing them. I would far rather see a fixed duty, even at the higher amount proposed by the honorable member for Bendigo, than the duty previously proposed. I shall not raise any objection to the amendment of the honorable member for Bendigo, but I propose to move the omission of the duties of 25 and 20 per cent.
Amendments agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Dugald Thomson) proposed -
That the words “ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty,” paragraph n, be left out.
– If the Minister sees no objection to that amendment, I shall not oppose it.
– I prefer to see the words retained, because the duties are intended to affect, not the cheaper grades of paints, but the higher grades. It was recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission that the duty on British imports should be 6s. per cwt., or 20 per cent.
– But the honorable member for Bendigo now says that if the Minister does not object to my amendment he will not.
– I do not mind the duty being- fixed- at 20 per cent, in each column.
.- I think that the Treasurer should reduce the ad valorem rates to 20 and 15 per cent, respectively. If he will agree to that reduction it will cover the cases which he has in his mind.
Mr. WYNNE (Balaclava) fn.6].- As the old duty of 4s. has been increased to 6s., it means a duty of £fi a ton. That, I think, ought to be sufficient protection on any class of paint. To my mind, it is a very big charge. I do not know what paint is worth, but I should think that £20 would be a very good price. On that value a duty of £6 a ton would be equal to 20 per cent. It is a most difficult thing for any person to assess the value of these articles. Preferably I would support a fixed duty on ‘ all things, because it does away with any inducement to commit a fraud. If we impose an ad valorem duty and a fixed duty, it will only encourage persons to undervalue their goods, whereas if we impose a fixed duty only they will know exactly what they have to pay, and there will be no inducement to commit a fraud.
.- I would point out to the honorable member for North Sydney that if his amendment be negatived, the duty of 25 per cent, will stand, although the Treasurer has offered to reduce it to 20 per cent.
– If honorable members are agreeable, I am prepared to accept duties of 20 and 15 per cent.
– I propose to test the point on an amendment to omit the words “or ad val.” In any case if the Minister does not want the duty fixed in that form, it can be dealt with afterwards in a separate paragraph.
– I point out to the honorable member for North Sydney that if his amendment is lost, ‘ the honorable member forGwydir will not be able to move an amendment to reduce the rates, because the question put to the Committee will have been that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the item.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Dugald Thomson) proposed -
That the words “or ad val.,” paragraph B, be left out.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the item - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments (by Mr. Webster) agreed to-
That after the words “ 25 per cent.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent.” ; and that after the words “ 20 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. “(United Kingdom), 15 per cent.,” be inserted.
– I move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ BB. Ships’ anti- fouling composition, per cwt. (General Tariff), 4s. 6d. ; (United Kingdom), 4s.”
The object of thisnew paragraph is to afford facilities for Inter-State vessels to be docked in Australia. If provision be not made in this direction, it simply means that ships will be docked in eastern ports. Other countries, like New Zealand, admit these paints practically free, and it would be” advisable for Australia to do the same.
Amendment agreed to.
.- Paragraph c, “ Colours, dry, n.e.i.,” is an item as to which we have proposed a little increase of 225 per cent, in the duty. It is desirable to emphasize that fact. Such an increase may not sound very much if one says it quickly. I do not profess to know much about colours, but
I must protest against an absurd increase of this kind. I move -
That after the figures “3s. 3d.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s.,” be inserted.
Amendments (by Mr. Webster) agreed to-
That after the figures “3s. 3d.,” paragraph c, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s. 6d.” ; and that after the figures “3s.” the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom), 2s.,” be inserted.
– I should be glad if the honorable member for Gwydir would move a reduction on my behalf, in respect of paragraph d. I am prepared to agree to a proposal that the duty on foreign imports be reduced from 2s. 3d. to1s. 6d. per cwt.
– I shall not accept such an amendment.
– I move-
That after the figures “2s. 3d.,” paragraph d, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff),1s. 6d.,” be inserted.
– I intend to move -
That after the figures “2s. 3d.,” paragraph d, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s.”; and that after the figures “ 2s.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom),1s.9d.,” be inserted.
– I should like the Treasurer to agree to progress being reported.
– The honorable member may try to count-out the House if he likes to do so, but I shall not agree to an adjournment until we have dealt with this division.
– Why not finish the whole Tariff before we adjourn ? I think that it is time that progress was reported. The Committee seems to be in a mood to vote for whatever the Treasurer desires.
– We are all reasonable men.
– Yes ; when the duties have been increased by 200 per cent, and 300 per cent. The Treasurer is in a very unreasonable mood. He has told me across the table that he will do nothing for me, and I do not see why I should do anything for him.
– I did not say that-
– The reductions proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir is a paltry, contemptible one, and I would sooner vote for the original duty. It is an abuse of terms to speak of these duties as reasonable. So far as I can learn, there is very little of this material imported. The Treasurer will agree to nothing, but now and again he puts up an honorable member on his own side to make a slight reduction.
– He does not do anything of the kind.
– When the honorable member for Gwydir begins to move reductions, we may be quite sure that he has had the “ office.”
– I know something about these items.
– The honorable member for Lang is the authority on white lead, and he declares that these duties are extremely high. I appeal to the Treasurer to agree to duties of1s.9d. and1s. 6d.
– No. I will agree to 2s. and1s. 9d.
– Then I move-
That after the figures “2s. 3d.,” paragraph d, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff),1s.9d.,” be inserted.
– I think the Treasurer should be more reasonable. Items have been passed to-day with a rapidity I did not expect. We might reasonably have expected that the discussion of the kerosene duty would have occupied a whole day. There is one item in this division on which it is necessary that something should be said, because the increase proposed in the duty is enormous. I refer to item 237 - varnishes. I suggest that the Minister should postpone the consideration of that item.
– No. We have reached a stage at which it is necessary that we should make up our minds to get to a: certain place in the Tariff each day.
– The Minister cannot expect that honorable members on this side willgive up the views they hold because he insists that a certain duty should be imposed. There must be some consideration for honorable members on this side, or there must be debate.
– Let us go on with the debate. I intend to finish this division to-night.
-There is the answer to the suggestion that the Treasurer should agree to the postponement of the one item of. varnishes. This is what we get in return for checking debate on the kerosene duty. It should not be forgotten that even if the Minister applied the closure to the debate, and merely took a division on each item, it would be impossible for him to get the Tariff through before Christmas without the co-operation of the Opposition.
– We are so near the end of this division that I think we might finish it to-night.
– If the Treasurer would meet the Opposition in connexion with varnishes, there should be no difficulty about that.
– Every one must recognise that the honorable member for North Sydney is right when he says that unless there is cooperation amongst members on all sides we cannot expect to finish the consideration of the Tariff in this Chamber before Christmas. Still, I suggest that this division might be put through to-night. I must say that the Opposition have treated honorable members on this side fairly to-night. I point out with regard to varnishes that the proposed increase is not such an enormous one as has been suggested, and I think it will be found when we reach the item that there is a fair prospect of an agreement upon it.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Joseph Cook’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative. ‘
Amendments (by Mr. Webster) proposed -
That after the figures “ 2s. 3d.,” paragraph D, the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s.” ; and that after the figures “ 2s.,” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom),1s. 9d.,” be inserted.
– I should like to know whether the Minister can give any information on the item of white lead. I admit that it is very rare for him to give information. Will he tell us. where white lead is produced in Australia, under what conditions, what wages are paid in the industry, if it is an industry worth cultivating in Australia, and what justification he has for this huge increase in the duty ? White lead is one of the raw materials for the manufacture of paint. The number of men interested in getting it in at a moderate rate of duty far outweighs the number of men who will be employed in any industry of the kind which is likely to be developed in Australia for some time to come. Why we should be constantly taxing the raw materials of certain industries, I am at a loss to understand. But apparently the Treasurer has only to sit tight and he gets everything through without a word of explanation. Scarcely one honorable member knows where, in Australia, this white lead is produced.
– It is produced at Yarraville, near Footscray.
– Then will the honorable member for Batman tell us all about the industry? How many hands are employed ? We must know something about the item before wepass it. We cannot vote in the dark. We are voting 100 and 200 per cent, increases of duty in the most absolute ignorance of what we are doing.
– The honorable member has had two divisions on it in the dark.
– As the Committee is determined not to reduce the duty, the next best thing is to justify it. Will any more labour be employed if the duties are increased? Is the new protection to apply to the industry if established under these inordinate rates ? I will not vote a 100 per cent, increase in any duty unless I know that the workman is to benefit, and that the best labour conditions are to apply. Why tax the raw material ofthe painters of the Commonwealth, who are making a bare living as it is? I like a fair thing, but I do not think this is a fair thing. We are told that this white lead - I hope that I shall not be accused of slandering Australian industries-
– The honorable member is doing very well.
– I cannot even get a reduction of 3d. If I could get the ear of the honorable member for Gwydir, he might persuade the Government to be reasonable even yet.
– He has proposed duties of 2s. and1s.9d.
– Is that a, reasonable proposal? A duty of1s.9d. is an increase of 75 per cent. I wished to find out how much of this article was imported, but the figures are not at all clear. I am referred “over the leaf,” but that tells us nothing, because there I find “colours, dry, n.e.i.” I should like to know where white lead is produced in Australia, how many men are employed, what wages are paid, and the area of the works? I should like to know, further, from the Minister of Trade and Customs, in the absence of the Treasurer, whether he feels justified in agreeing to the reasonable proposition that the duties should be 2s. and 1s. 6d. ?
– I accept the suggestion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That after the figures “ 2s. 3d.,” paragraph d, the words “and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (General Tariff), 2s.,” and after the figures “ 2s.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per cwt. (United Kingdom),1s. 6d.,” be inserted. .
.- I should like to suggest to the Minister of Trade and Customs that barytes should be placed under item 239, and thus be made subject to a general Tariff of 5 per cent., with free imports from the United Kingdom.
– The Government will accept that suggestion - let us do some business.
Amendment (by Mr. Tudor) agreed to-
That the words “ (e) Barytes, per cwt., 2s.,” be left out.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 237. Varnishes ; Varnish and Oil Stains; Lacquers; Enamels; Enamel Paints and Glosses; Japans; Berlin and Brunswick Blacks; Liquid Sizes; Patent Knotting; Oil and Wood Finishes; Petrifying Liquids; Damp-wall Compositions; Lithographic Varnish; Printers’ Ink Reducer; Terebine ; Liquid Dryers ; and Gold Size, per gal., 2s., or ad val., 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– This is a debatable item which might well occupy the Committee profitably for at least half a sitting; and yet we are asked to deal with it at midnight. I decidedly object to any “ double banking.” Let people know what they have to pay one way or the other. If the Minister of Trade and Customs will agree to leave out the ad valorem duty I shall have no more to say.
– Why should the ad valorem duty be left out.
– Because the duty is a high one, even when the ad valorem rate is omitted.
– The best article will then be admitted at the lower rate of duty.
– I am assured by the best authorities upon varnishes, that it is impossible to check their values - that one cannot tell the difference between a varnish which is worth 5s. per gallon and one which is worth 6s. and 7s. per gallon. Their relative values can be determined only by their wear.
– They must be funny practical men who cannot tell the difference between the values of varnishes.
– The honorable member for Lang is an expert upon varnishes - he has been working amongst them all his life - and he cannot tell the difference between their values. I should like to know whether the Treasurer will agree to substitute a fixed rate for an ad valorem ?
– The ad valorem rate proposed is 30 percent. Personally, I should be willing to agree to a reduced rate as a compromise.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended only1s. 9d. per gallon.
– That is a mistake. We recommended a duty of 2s. per gallon.
– Let us say 2s. 6d. per gallon under the general Tariff, and 2s. per gallon under that for the United Kingdom.
– I have no objection. I suggest to the Treasurer that we should omit the ad valorem rate, and substitute in lieu thereof 2s. 6d. per gallon under the general Tariff, and 2s. per gallon under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. .
. -In the first place, it is undeniable that a difficulty is experienced in checking the values of varnishes. That fact would enable dishonest firms to obtain a trade advantage. In the second place, a good deal of this work has to be done in competition with other places. A considerable portion of it has to be done upon vessels, and upon articles which go out of Australia. Seeing that New Zealand levies a duty of only 2s. per gallon upon varnishes, the imposition of the rate proposed would offer a premium to all vessels which touch at the Dominion and Australia to get their work done there. For these reasons the Treasurer might well agree to the suggestion which has been made.
– Several persons have contended that under the operation of the duty proposed, ships would visit New Zealand in order to get their varnishing work done there. I do not believe that many vessels would go there specially for that purpose. But I confess that I do not like a double duty. At the same time, I do not wish to allow the higher class importations to escape taxation. I move -
That after the word “Berlin” the word “and” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof a comma.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “ Brunswick “ the words “and stoving” be inserted.
Sir. WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Trea sire which has been expressed, and emphatically to facilitate the transaction of business, I move -
That after the figure “ 2s.” the words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per gallon (General Tariff), 2s. 6d. ; (United Kingdom), 2s.,” be inserted.
I shall afterwards move the omission of the words “or ad. val. 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– I am rather surprised that the old argument that we cannot produce varnish in Australia has not been advanced. The former rate of duty was 1s. 9d. per gallon. Yet coachbuilders tell us that Australian varnish is useless.
– A lot of it is.
– The whole of the varnish used on the Victorian railways is manufactured in this State.
– Some Australian varnish is good, the bulk of it is bad.
– Under the existing system the higher grades of varnish will be admitted at a cheap rate. Unfortunately, while the Treasurer is frequently derided by the Opposition for refusing to give way upon Tariff matters, he yields more to the members of that body than he does to his own supporters. The varnish made here is good enough for the varnishing of the railway carriages of Victoria, and therefore I think that the least the Minister could have done was to insist upon his original proposal. Now that he has agreed to a reduction, it is hopeless for me to try to move him.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “or ad val., 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty,” be left out.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 238. Liquid removers of Paint and Varnish, ad val. 15 per cent.
– I hope that the Committee will negative this item.
– I am informed that liquid removers of paints and varnish generally consist of mixtures of turpentine and spirits, or similar substances, their manufacture being a very simple process. Under the old Tariff they were free as unspecified article’s, there being no dutiable heading under which they could be placed. This was considered anomalous, and therefore the previous proposal was made.
– No one asked for a duty on these things.
– I object to the departmental officers proposing duties of this kind. It is not their function to do so.
– A Minister cannot carry on his Department without listening to the recommendation) of officers who have grown up in the service, and know more about these matters than does any one else.
– Why not negative the item, and bring liquid removers of paint and varnish into item 239?
– This arrangement was proposed for the protection of the revenue.
– We ought to shift all these officers. The country is being ridden by Victorian officials.
– I do not think that we could get better officials anywhere. I wish the honorable member had half the brains of any one of them.
– I wish to say, as emphatically as I can - and I have been saying it ever since I came to this Parliament-
– Without any effect.
– Nothing reasonable can have effect while the honorable member is in power. Every one knows that he is entirely in the grip of his secretary, because he has not the ability requisite to do his own work.
– The honorable member should not be insulting.
– I suppose the Treasurer is never insulting. I object to Tariffs being made by officials who should be tax-gatherers and not tax-framers. It is their duty to protect the revenue, and to make suggestions to that end ; but they step beyond their functions when they make proposals for the protection of Australian industries. That is the business of this Parliament. The officials have no right to interfere in it.
– And they have not done so.
– The Treasurer said that they suggested this item.
– They suggested a re-arrangement, because the former Tariff was anomalous. The item was embodied in the Tariff for the sake of clearness.
– Although their reason, according to the Treasurer, was simply to obtain clearness, the effect of the item is to make dutiable at 15 per cent, a composition which under the old
Tariff was admitted duty free. I enter my emphatic protest against the proposing of duties by officers in the Department.
– I am prepared to bring liquid removers into item 239, which will make them dutiable at 5 per cent., or, if imported from the United Kingdom,
.I move -
That the words” and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val., 10 per cent.,” be added.
This is a matter I know something about, and, in my opinion, the departmental officers did quite right in suggesting the insertion of the item. They were actuated by the desire to protect the revenue of the Commonwealth, and it is a pity that reflections have been cast on men who know more about the working of the Department than we do. It is their duty to point out anything that they think to be wrong, while it is. our duty to judge the wisdom of their suggestions. I think that in this case they have done quite right.
– By way of personal explanation I desire to say that my remarks were addressed not to the Under-Secretary but to the Minister, who encourages that sort of thing on the part of the officers.
– The honorable member for Bass has told the Committee that he is an expert on this matter, but he has given us no indication that he possesses special knowledge.
– I did not want to make a speech at this hour.
– I appreciate that. From the statement of the Minister I understand that liquid’ removers are composed of spirits of turpentine andsimilar things. If that is so, I do not see that any great trouble will ensue if we do what has been suggested.
– They can make the article and bottle it here.
– Yes. When they put. spirits of turpentine and something else together they have a liquid remover. From what I can hear, it is an extremely simple thing to make. The Tariff Commission made no recommendation on this head. No one has asked for a duty to be imposed, and at the most the Minister has said that it is a Ministerial recommendation. In those circumstances I do not think that we need worry very much about the matter, but. I suggest to the honorable member for Parramatta that he might accept the Minister’s proposal to make the duty 5percent. in the general Tariff, and to admit British imports free, as it approximates to his own idea.
– I have no objection.
.- I do not think that there is any ground for reflecting upon the officers of the Department. I have always found them very fair and impartial and anxious to place information from every point of view in. the hands of honorable members. I hope that the honorable member for Parramatta did not mean to reflect on them.
– I explained that I did not.
– The officers of the Department have a duty to perform, and if they see an ambiguity in the Tariff, and that no provision is made as to the head under which a duty is to fall, it is their business to direct the attention of the Minister to the matter, with i view to its being put right.
– I think that the honorable member for Parramatta scarcely did justice to himself when he described the officers of the Department as mere tax-gatherers, as they have very important and intricate duties to discharge.
– That is all I said.
– The honorable member described them as mere tax-gatherers.
– And something besides.
– Order ! I think it is unnecessary to discuss the officers of the Department on this item.
– I hope that I may be pardoned for saying a few more words, as the remarks have reflected on the State which I represent. If has been stated that the officers are Victorians. The ComptrollerGeneral does happen to be aVictorian. No one can question his ability, capacity and integrity. Heis second to no officer in the Public Service. The next officer who administers the Department happens to come from New South Wales, and he also isa very competent officer.
– I propose to move that item 238 be eliminated, with a view to its being brought under another’ head.
– There is an amendment before the Committee.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Sir . William Lyne) proposed -
That the’ words “ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free,” be added.
– I desire to say a few more words about the officers of the Department. This, I repeat, is not the first time I have referred to this matter here. I have no complaint to make against the officers. My complaint is made against the Minister for permitting them to ‘control and make the fiscal policy of Australia. Their function is to protect the revenue, and not to suggest or to control’ our fiscal policy. The latter function appertains to the Minister and to this ‘Parliament.
– I think that their suggestions might receive consideration.
– They might be considered.
– I have already said that any suggestion for a rearrangement or a better arrangement of the items might be considered, but no suggestion for the imposition of new duties should be entertained, because that involves a question ‘ of policy.
– Are not the officers there to assist the Minister?
– Yes ; they are there to assist the Ministry in carrying out the policy laid down by this Parliament. They are not there to impose new duties.
– I rise to order. What have the honorable member’s observations to do with the item?.
– Order! The honarable member for Gippsland will resume his seat. The honorable member for Parramarta is quite in order.
– ThemomentI rise to my feet that jack-in-the-box over there gets up. I am getting about tired of it.
– We are all tired of the honorable member.
-Then the honorable member can go outside;I subscribe to all that has been said as to the ability and integrity of the officers of the Department. I have never doubted them. I do not believe that we could have more capable men at the head of the Department of Trade and Customs than are there to-day. My point is clear - that they are there to assist the Minister m administering the Tariff, hot to make suggestions for new and high duties.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 239. Blacks Vermilions, Crayons, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to - - That the words “barytes” be inserted after the word “Crayons.”
Item, as amended, agreed to. Progress reported.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. this day-
House adjourned at 12.35 a.m. (Tuesday.).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 December 1907, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071202_reps_3_42/>.