3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Min ister of Defence a question, without notice, following up a matter to which I previously referred. I wish toknow whether the honorable gentleman is in a position to make any statement with regard to his expressed desire to form a medical reserve in connexion with the citizen forces of the Commonwealth.
– I had previously told the honorable member that there were difficulties in the way that appeared to be insurmountable. They have now, however, been overcome, and instructions have been given to form the corps forthwith;
ALLEGED SWEATING : SYDNEY POST OFFICE.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions, I beg to state -
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from; 3rd December, vide page 6967) :
Division IX. - Drugs and Chemicals.
Item 273. Acetic Acid, Extract, or Essence of Vinegar :
Vinegar, standard (as prescribed by Departmental by-laws), the product of malt or grain or fruit juice by alcoholic and acetic fermentation, containing not more than 6 per cent. of absolute Acetic Acid, per gal., 6d.
Solutions, Extracts, or Essences, contain ing more than 6 per cent. but not more than 30 per cent. of absolute Acetic Acid,per gal., 3s.9d.
Acetic Acid, in crystals or powdered form, ad val., 15 per cent.
.- I have given notice of an amendment to paragraph a, having for its object the imposition of the duty recommended by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. . I. therefore move -
That, after the figure ” 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “and on and after 4th December, 1907, ad val., 10 per cent.,” be inserted.
.-‘ Under paragraph b it is proposed to impose a duty of2s. per gallon on “ vinegar not the product of malt or grain or fruit juice.” I suppose the object is to prevent the importation of acetic acid vinegar, and while I have no objection to the dutyproposed for that purpose I suggest that it might be well later on to consider the advisableness of imposing an Excise duty on vinegar made from acetic acid to check its manufacture here.
– Paragraph e of this item is incorrect and misleading. Acetic acid is not imported in powdered form. Acetates for the manufacture of acetic acid are, however, imported, and I move as an amendment -
That, after the words “ 15, per cent.,” paragraph e, the words “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, Acetates for the manufacture of acetic acid, ad val.,15per cent.,” be added.
– It seems to me that on the one hand we are trying to check the introduction of vinegar which is supposed to be not as good as is that made from grain, while, on the other, we are proposing to let in at a comparatively low duty that from which the objectionable class of vinegar can be made.
– Acetate is also used for industrial purposes.
– But it may be used for making acetic acid from Which the vinegar objected to is produced.
– That can be met only by the imposition of an Excise duty as suggested by the honorable member for Yarra.
– I do not know whether the Treasurer intends to take any further step in the matter.
– I am making a note of it, and shall consider the question when we revert to the Excise duties.
– The Treasurer will deal with the matter in connexion with the Excise duties?
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 274 (Acids) agreed to.
Item 275, Carbonate of Ammonia, per cwt., 5s.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be added : “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, Item 275. Ammonia, viz. : - Carbonate Anhydrous, liquid, muriate, and sulphate, ad val., 15 per cent.”
.- The Treasurer has moved what is an entirely new item, and without any explanation expects the Committee on the spur of the moment to deal with it. I think that he ought to give us some information as to the reason for the alteration.
– The item, as it stood, was wrongly worded. The Department has been carefully looking through these items to guard against any mistake, and has submitted this amendment to me.
– I suppose that as long as the Department is satisfied the Committee should be satisfied. If that be so, the whole Tariff should be referred to the Department instead of Parliament being asked to deal with it. I should like to know what the proposed ad valorem duty is equivalent to.
.The duty on anhydrous ammonia is equivalent to about11/2d. per lb. Anhydrous ammonia, which is used for refrigerating purposes, was at one time sold at 2s. and 2s. 6d. per lb., but we have now established here two large manufactories, and the price has been reduced to1s. per lb. The duty proposed is a comparatively small one.
– Is this a clear case of where the price has been brought down by a duty ?
– The honorable member is quite right. The product is made entirely from Australian articles, such as the by-products of the gas companies. The industry is also a big consumer of coal ; and the article is made largely from Australian lime. This is a native Australian industry and we are making the product much purer than any which is imported.
– Is the duty to be protective, or for revenue purposes? If it is to be protective will 15 per cent. be enough?
– The manufacturers are satisfied.
– 15 per cent. is only a revenue duty. Is the Minister going to be content with that in the case of this important and growing industry ? My own opinion is that the proposed duty should not be agreed to. The article is manufactured from by-products, and there is abundant evidence that we can make it as cheaply as can anybody else in the world. At any rate, we ought to be able to do so. The item should either be placed on the free list or subjected to a small duty, say of 5 or 10 per cent. If there is to be a protective duty, 15 per cent. is too low. If there is to be a revenue duty, the proposal is too high.
– Most of these products are waste products, both here and in other parts of the world. There are five manufacturers of them in Australia, and the internal competition is very keen.
– Does the honorable member know that we are exporting them?
– I know that these products are, being imported, and sold here at a lower price than they are sold at in the Old Land.
– What quantity was imported last year?
– I could not say. Carbonate of ammonia is not made in Australia, yet it was the only one of these articles made dutiable in the Tariff as submitted. I am glad that the Government are prepared to impose a duty on these products. Fifteen per cent. will satisfy the manufacturers and give them the amount of protection necessary to enable them to enter into competition with the importations.
– If they are satisfied with 15 per cent., it is the best of all proofs that the duty is not necessary.
– Hit high or hit low, we cannot satisfy the honorable member. The honorable member uses either argument to suit the particular circumstances of his case. I believe that 15 per cent. is too low, and am prepared to vote for 30 per cent.
– I will do so if the industry is established.
– It is established.
– Then I will vote for 30 per cent.
– The Australian manufacturers have to compete against products dumped from other parts of the world, which are really the waste products of large manufactories. It pays the manufacturer to send them to Australia for much less than they are being sold for in the Old Country. I believe the Committee will be prepared to agree to a higher duty than 15 per cent.
– Before I vote I want to know from the Minister whether this is to be a protective or revenue duty ?
– The honorable member has asked the question in a tricky way. I do not consider that 15 per cent in this case is a true protective duty, but I have letters from those interested to say that they will be quite satisfied with 15 per cent. Why, then, should I propose more ? If I had proposed 30 per cent. the honorable member would have jumped over the table at me.
– The honorable member need not try to pose before people in Melbourne. I know him of old, and his prowess in that direction. Is the new protection to apply to these manufacturers? We are told that the industry is flourishing, that the works are multiplying throughout Australia, and producing an exceedingly good article, which is much superior, according to the honorable member for Fawkner, to the imported. The manufacturers are able to compete with the imported article, and even to invade foreign markets. Even protectionists believe that when there is a considerable export business, import duties are no longer effective. Here we have a case in which, apparently, the Australian product can compete successfully with the product of the world, and yet manufacturers ask for a duty, which, of course, cannot be protective.
– The duty is to prevent dumping.
– The honorable member has been challenged as to the exports, and he evidently knows nothing about the matter.
– This product is being sold in Australia to-day at a lower price than that at which it is sold in the Old Country.
– Does not that afford the best proof that no duty is required? If, in spite of this “dumping,” the local industry is flourishing, why impose a duty ?
– If the home market be taken away, the industry might just as well cease at once.
– It seems to me that the manufacturers ask for the duty for the sole purpose of putting it into their own pockets.
– No; there is undue competition at the present time, and prices are abnormally low.
– Then I understand that the object of the duty is to raise prices ?
– Yes; I suppose soto enable the manufacturers to carry on the industry.
-Now we know from the frank statement of the honorable member that the real object of the duty is to increase prices.
– Otherwise the factories must close.
– The honorable member is departing from the usual protectionist argument that duties cheapen prices. I decline to be a party to putting up prices in view of the present prosperous condition of the industry.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 276 (Carbonic Acid Gas) agreed to.
Item 277. Carbide of calcium, ad val. (General Tariff), 10 per cent. ; (United Kingdom) free.
.- This item ought to be made absolutely free. When the first Commonwealth Tariff was submitted, the proposal was to impose a duty of 20 per cent., but, after discussion, it was decided to make the item free. The official statistics show what the proposed preference to the United Kingdom is worth. The total imports from the United Kingdom last year were represented by £1,469, while the imports from foreign countries were represented by . £63,132. Carbide of calcium is used for the manufacture of acetylene gas, which is the illuminant of many country people; and the duty simply means additional taxation to the extent of £6,300 per annum. I think I need say no more in favour of the suggestion that the item should be absolutely free.
.- Under the old Tariff, as the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, carbide of calcium was free; and I think the Treasurer might give some reason for the proposed duty of 10 per cent.
.- The duty of 10 per cent. is imposed in consequence of representations made from persons in Queensland, who have entered into some arrangement with the State Government for the supply of motive power . from Barron Falls. These people propose to manufacture carbide of calcium, and, as I say, it is in consequence of their representations that the duty is proposed.
.- I am much obliged to the Treasurer for condescending to give the Committee information which he should have afforded at the outset. However, I place no value on the information - I take it for just what it is worth. Carbide of calcium ought to be placed on the same footing as kerosene, because it is used as an illuminant mainly by country people.
– If the honorable member does not wish a duty to be imposed, I have no desire to press the matter.
– My intention is to move that carbide of calcium be placed on the free list.
– I accept the suggestion.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “ 10 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 4th December, 1907 (General Tariff), free,” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 278. Drugs and Chemicals, viz. : -
.- I fail to see why it is proposed to levy a duty of 25 per cent. upon the articles enumerated in paragraph a of this item, seeing that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of . only 20 per cent.
– Only 20 per cent. is proposed under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– I should like to see 20 per cent. imposed under the General Tariff, and these articles admitted free from the United Kingdom. Take, for example quill ay a bark. It is not grown in the Commonwealth. It is used principally for promoting the growth of hair. It may be used in the raw state by simply soaking it in. warm water. When rubbed upon the bald pate, it has a tendency to make the hair grow. A considerable quantity of’ it is imported from America. Then salicylate of soda is a drug which is used in the treatment of rheumatic fever. Why should persons who are suffering from illness be taxed upon the drugs that they require to use?
– The old rate was 20 per cent.
– The honorable member wishes to reduce the duty levied under the old Tariff.
– Honorable members who claim to represent the workers ought to recognise how important it is that the masses should be permitted to obtain their drugs cheaply. I move -
That, after the words “ 25 per cent.” paragraph a, the words, “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the words” when imported for medicinal purposes only,” paragraph b, be left out.
I point out that under the old Tariff the duty on saccharin was 550 times the duty on sugar, being equal to 30s. per lb. ; but under this Tariff its use is prohibited except for medicinal purposes. I desire to elicit the reasons why the Government have submitted this proposal.
– For Queensland reasons also.
– I think so, too. Some time ago a petition was presented to the Treasurer from the aerated water makers and brewers of non-intoxicating ales. It reads as follows-
We, the undersigned aerated water makers and brewers of non-intoxicant ales, desire to respectfully and urgently bring before the notice of you and your Government the hardships entailed on us by the prohibition of the importation of saccharin into the Commonwealth (for other than medicinal purposes). The endorsements of the medical profession show the properties of saccharin to be innocuous to man, only the mere fact of its having no food value can be advanced against its use. We do not pretend to sell our goods for their food value, though the sweetening properties of our aerated waters contain two-thirds sugar. Saccharin has been of inestimable value to us in lessening the risks of fermentation in aerated waters, and in keeping the spirit in non-intoxicating beers down to the 2 per cent. limit allowed by the Excise. To prohibit its importation means the total extinction of the non-alcoholic ale industry, it being impossible to keep within the limits of the Excise by the use of sugar only.
As a matter of fact it is claimed by all the manufacturers that they cannot produce tonic ales with less than 2 per cent. of alcohol if they have to use sugar only. What they do is to use two-thirds of sugar and one-third of saccharin, and the result is that they can keep the intoxicant percentage down to that which is prescribed by the Excise law. In a report, Mr. P. Wilkinson, the Victorian Government analyst, had made this statement -
Stringent prohibitions of the use of any saccharin in any food or beverage under extremely heavy penalties are now in force in Great Britain.
In respect of that statement by Mr. Wilkinson, the petitioners say -
This is absolutely incorrect. Saccharin is prohibited in Great Britain in beer for revenue purposes, but is used freely, and to an” enormous extent, in other beverages, mineral waters’ especially, and no case of any, trouble through its use has been recorded here. It is quite harmless.
In proof of their contention, the petitioners cite an expert opinion by Thomas Stevenson, M.D., F.R.C.P., London, lecturer on forensic medicine and chemistry at Guy’s Hospital, and Official Analyst to the Home Office. He says-
Saccharin is quite innocuous when taken , in quantities largely exceeding what would be taken in any ordinary dietary.,. T.t. does not interfere wilh or impede the digestive processes when taken in any practicable quantity. Our personal experience fs that saccharin may be taken for an extended period without interfering with the digestive or other bodily functions ; hence there is no reason to think that its continued use is in any way harmful.
The Medical Press of the 31st October, 1888, states that “ saccharin is perfectly wholesome”; while Dr. T. Lauder Brunton declares that “ saccharin has no injurious action in man.” I have a list containing the names of scores of medical men of high repute “who all claim that the use of saccharin is not injurious. I may mention that in the case of certain diseases it is prescribed because it is better than sugar for sweetening purposes. My object is to elicit the reason why the Government have taken this extreme step, because so far as I can see it is not warranted by any statement in the .evidence given before the Tariff Commission.
– No evidence was given on this matter, except on behalf of the Department.
– No. If this high duty is imposed in the interests of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Committee ought to be made acquainted with the fact. If the use of the article is injurious to health, we ought “ at least to be furnished by the Government with convincing testimony.
– The reasons given for the proposed duty are these -
The limitations made by this item are identical with those framed and gazetted on the nth December, 1906. The object is to place limitations on the use of saccharin, which is not viewed with favour by the medical faculty. The use of saccharin in the preparation of foods, cordials, &c, is prohibited in some States. The importation of saccharin is forbidden except for medical purposes. The Tariff Commission is very strong against its use, and the duty is their recommendation. Its use is said to be very deleterious in many cases, and the local Acts of some of the States forbid its use. The health authorities are against it, and the duty is no doubt prohibitive.
I hope there will not be a long debate on the subject.
– Give way.
– Why ‘should I give way if this statement is true?
– If that statement is true the Minister ought to go further.
– The proposed duty is prohibitive.
– No, it is not.
– I have this feeling about the matter - that it might reasonably be left to be dealt with by the States. If in some States the use of saccharin has been prohibited under local Acts, I do not see why we should waste time in discussing it, or take the responsibility for the exclusion of saccharin upon our shoulders. Attention will be drawn to the subject by the debate which we have had to-day, and the reasons for the proposed duty will be made known. Personally, I do not feel disposed to occupy much time about it, and if there is any serious objection to the proposed duty I will strike it out, leaving the States to deal with the matter. That seems to be the fairest thing to do. The information that the proposed duty would be prohibitive comes from the head of the Department.
– The duty would be prohibitive for certain purposes, but not for others. *
– The proposal is to admit saccharin for medicinal purposes only under departmental regulations.
– If it is prohibited under the Tariff, it can be manufactured, in the country.
– I am disposed to strike out the provision rather than waste further time in discussing it.
– As the honorable member for Grey has shown, there are two widely different opinions amongst medical authorities as to -the wholesomeness. or otherwise, of saccharin.
– They all agree that it is not a food.
– It is not a food, but certain manufacturers have found it desirable to use it in very small quantities in order to prevent the fermentation which often takes place if sugar is used, and which imparts alcohol to beverages. In some States the importation of saccharin has been interfered with really on the ground that its consumption reduces the quantity of sugar used; though that cannot be the case to any considerable extent. If its use is deleterious, we should be still admitting it for human consumption under the proposal of the Government. A duty of 30s. per lb., while it excludes . saccharin for manufacturing purposes - for use in aerated waters, for instance - would not exclude it for consumption medicinally.
– I will strike out the provision.
– But what about the prohibition of importation ?
– That is a matter for the Department to deal with.
– Saccharin is often used for putting in tea instead of sugar.
– What I suggest would be that the States should make their own regulations for the use of saccharin under their Pure Food Acts, and that the Department should do what the States desire to be done, unless there is a serious reason for doing’ otherwise.
– The Minister would allow saccharin to be imported for human use in the way in which possibly it ‘is most largely consumed. A man who takes saccharin with every cup of tea he drinks consumes infinitely more than he would do by drinking occasionally aerated waters. So that taken in the form in which its consumption would be largest and most deleterious it is proposed to admit it ; because the duty of 30s. per lb. would not exclude saccharin for use . in that form. The position is absolutely illogical. The aerated water manufacturers would be prohibited from using it on account of its price, but people could still consume it as a substitute for sugar under doctors’ orders.
– Doctors are allowed to prescribe arsenic.
– We do not exclude arsenic for manufacturing purposes. It is put in proprietary medicines. It would be absurd to exclude arsenic from being used by manufacturers of medicines, and still allow it to come in for personal consumption.
– I have no doubt that a proclamation can be framed which will prohibit saccharin for use in certain cases, and admit it for use in certain other cases.
– I am glad that the Minister has promised to allow the duty on saccharin to be struck out. The States can do whatever may be necessary. It seems to be fairly well established that saccharin is innocuous, but if it is not the States can pass the necessary legislation to prohibit its use. In any case, if we prohibited its importation we could not stop the English firm which manufactures and exports it from establishing a branch for its manufacture here. So that we might still have it used ir» mineral waters even if we prohibited its importation. I draw attention to a case which occurred in England in which it seems to have been shown that where the strength of saccharin was lower than 330 above the strength of sugar, it was not saccharin within the meaning of the Finance Act 1 90 1. I draw attention to this decision in view of the possibility of the importation of saccharin being regulated by the Customs Department. As the matter stands now, saccharin seems to be a constituent which- is 550 above the strength of sugar. In England it has been de- tided that saccharin is not saccharin unless it is over 330 and anything up to 550. It has been held that a substance possessing a- sweetness of 329 is not saccharin. Therefore it is possible that, if paragraph b is not struck out, an inferior class of saccharin will be imported, notwithstanding our attempt to prohibit its importation. The matter was gone into thoroughly in the case of McNicol v. Pinch, 2 Q. B. R. 1906.
.- It seems to me that the action of the Minister will lead to the absolute prohibition of the importation of saccharin.
– No. Saccharin for medicinal purposes may be allowed to come in free under departmental by-laws.
– But saccharin is used in the manufacture of aerated waters. Although the Minister has declared that the use of saccharin is injurious to health, the Victorian Pure Foods Act allows it to be used in the making of aerated waters, which honorable members, since most of them are teetotallers, should encourage. It is hardly fair that it should go abroad that saccharin is a harmful substance. After the most careful investigations, Drs. Stevenson and
Woolridge stated, in an article which appeared in the Lancet on the 17th November, 1888, that they had proved conclusively that-
Saccharin is quite innocuous when taken in quantities largely exceeding what would be taken in any ordinary dietary ; saccharin does not interfere with or impede the digestive processes when taken in any practicable quantity ; and our personal experience is that saccharin may be taken for an extended period without interfering with the digestive and other bodily functions. Hence there is no reason to think that its continued use is in any way harmful.
In certain diseases saccharin is prescribed by the medical profession to take the place of sugar, and, in my opinion, it has been maligned by the Treasurer.
.- Although the statement has been made that it is desirable to impose a duty on saccharin to protect the sugar industry, I do not support it on that ground. But there is no warrant for maintaining that saccharin is a food. Unless it is diluted before being taken, it is a very unwholesome product, in fact, dangerous if consumed in its raw state. But if saccharin were allowed to be imported freely, it would be used by unscrupulous manufacturers, not only in the making of aerated water, but also in the making of sweetmeats, to the injury of the health of the youth of Australia.
– That is a matter for the health authorities of the States. The use of saccharin is allowed under the Victorian Pure Foods Act, and in South Australia.
– Saccharin has such high sweetening qualities, that if it can be bought at rates which make it cheaper to use than sugar having the same sweetening equivalent it will be substituted for sugar, and the onus of making continual analyses to protect the youth of Australia from harmful adulteration will be thrown on the health authorities. We ought not to allow saccharin to be admitted duty free.
– Saccharin is used largely in the making of infants’ foods.
– It should be used with great care, and under proper supervision. If it can be obtained cheaply, unscrupulous persons will use it. to the danger of the public health. I do not oppose the proposition of the Treasurer, but I shall not be surprised if future Parliaments find it necessary to impose a prohibitory duty on saccharin.
.- I wish to move to strike out the words “ when imported for medical purposes, in accordance with departmental by-laws.”
– I think it would be better to strike out paragraph b.
– Move to make saccharin free.
– I do not wish to dp that. At present the uncertainty in connexion with the matter is seriously interfering with business. If the words which I propose are struck out,, saccharin will be dutiable at 30s. per lb. I do not know what would be the effect of leaving out paragraph b.
– The State authorities would be responsible for seeing that saccharin is not improperly used.
– I should like to know from the Treasurer what he proposes to do by proclamation!. The Committee wishes to be sure that the importation of saccharin for use for certain purposes will not be prohibited.
– No, the proclamation will provide for its use under departmental by-laws. I have just consulted the Comptroller-General, who says that that can be done under the Customs Act.
– Apart from any specific item in the Tariff, the Customs authorities have been in the habit of collecting a duty of 30s. per lb. on saccharin, on the ground that it is a substitute for, and a competitor with, sugar. They have a right to do that. This item merely proposes to crystallize or legalize the departmental practice.
– It does a great deal more.
– The first part of paragraph b does not do so.
– I think that the Department, under proclamation, can stop the importation of saccharin.
– I do not think it is necessary to absolutely prohibit its importation. It is used for some industrial purposes, but I am clearly of opinion that as a food product it is highly objectionable.
– The Department can, by proclamation, prohibit its general importation, but allow it to be imported for certain purposes.
– That is true. I would point out that we must have an import duty on saccharin, since it is proposed to have an Excise duty of £5 per ton upon it. I object to paragraph b being struck out, although I should not object to the omission of the words “ when imported for medicinal purposes only.” We must have an import duty on saccharin to regulate its importation, and also an Excise duty, otherwise we should have a wholesale production and consumption of this objectionable article, without any State regulation.
– I disagree with the honorable member for Bendigo. There is no necessity to impose a duty on saccharin if it does not serve a useful purpose. Departmental by-laws can be made to meet the conditions. If we wish to prevent the wholesale manufacture of saccharin in Australia, we can impose an Excise without an import duty.
– Why should it not carry an import duty ?
– Many honorable members say they do not desire an import duty to be imposed, and that saccharin should be imported only under departmental by-laws. I have made a suggestion with a view to shortening the debate, but the Committee seemingly is not prepared to meet me.
– Why should not the duty be fixed by Parliament and not by proclamation ?
– The duty cannot be fixed by proclamation.
– The importation of saccharin could be prohibited by proclamation.
– Yes; and even if we ‘adopted the honorable member’s suggestion, the importation of saccharin could be prohibited under the Customs Act.
– But the item would indicate the duty that would be collected on saccharin if it were admitted.
– Quite so; but there is a strong feeling that it would be a good thing to prohibit its importation except under departmental by-laws. If I had my way, I would not allow it to come in, because I think that it is a very dangerous food product.
– Leave something to the States.
– I amprepared to do so, but my experience on this occasion should be a lesson to me not to try again to meet the wishes of the Committee.
– Why not leave out the words “ when imported for medicinal purposes only “ ?
– I am notparticular; I would rather strike out the whole item. I certainly do not wish the day tobe wasted in dealing with it, but if it be the desire of the Committee, I will agree to the words just mentioned being struck out.
.- On consideration, I think that it would be well to adopt the method suggested by the honorable member for Grey. In England the local manufacture of saccharin is regulated under the Finance Act of 1901.Its regulation here must necessarily be in the hands of the Commonwealth authorities because otherwise one State might prohibit the use of saccharin in the manufacture of aerated waters, whilst another might have no such prohibition, and we should thus have a most invidious distinction between State and! State. Let us retain the duty, strike out the words “ except when imported for medicinal purposes only,” and then under the Excise provisions we shall be able to regulate the production of saccharin just as it is done in England.
. -Is it proposed to allow the paragraph to stand, subject to the removal of these words ?
– I thinkthat there is an objection to the duty. I would far sooner leave the matter to the Minister, who has pledged himself to consult the health authorities of the States. The proper course would be to strike out the whole item, leaving the Minister, in conjunction with the health authorities of the States, to regulate the local production of saccharin.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the item, as amended, be agreed to - put.
Division called for.
– By leave we withdraw our call for a division.
– I object.
– There being no tellers for the noes, the question is resolved in the affirmative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 279. Cresylic acid, crude creosote oil and tar oil; saponaceous mixture of creosote ; carbolic acid, per gal., 6d.
.- The position at present is that disinfectants are allowed in free, and this duty is a charge upon the raw materials. I therefore move -
That the words “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, free,” be. added.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following new item be inserted - “ 279A. Crude Naphthaline, on and after 4th
December, 1907, free.”
Item 280. Naphthaline, ad val., 25 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That after the word “ Naphthaline,” the letters “ n.e.i.” be inserted.
– What is the explanation ?
– This will cover everything but crude naphthaline, which we had made free.
– The Treasurer proposes a duty of 25 per cent. on naphthaline, which under the old Tariff was admitted free, and the honorable gentleman has given no reason for the increase.
– It is in the Tariff Commission’s report.
– We should have some reasons given for the acceptance of the Tariff Commission’s recommendation.
– As I have told the honorable member before, I have followed as far as I could the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable gentleman has frequently departed from them. I want to know the reason of the increase. Is the article made here? Is the duty needed? Is there to be any preference given in this instance?
– In this case, I do not propose any preference.
– Why not?
– I went through my catechism when a boy.
– The honorable gentleman seems to have forgotten it since. As we can get no information from him on the subject, perhaps the Chairman of the Tariff Commission will explain why there should be a duty of 25 per cent. ‘ imposed on this article, which was previously admitted duty free.
.- I was under the impression that naphthaline was to be admitted duty free. It is used in connexion with one of our best manufactures. It is essential to the development of the leather industry.
– Because it is used in the preservation of hides.
– The naphthaline made here can be used for that purposejust as well as the imported naphthaline.
– I have it on the best authority that it cannot be made here, and that it is necessary that it should be admitted duty free’ in the interests of the leather industry.
– This question was brought under the attention of the Tariff Commission, and on the evidence of Mr. Dearman, a New South Wales witness, we found that -
An unsuccessful attempt was made in New South Wales to producerefined coal tar naphtha as a solvent for the use of india-rubber manufactures. There is plenty of the crude article available, but owing to the small duty, viz. : - 1/2d. per gallon, it was found impossible to compete with the English solvent naphtha, which is sold at 3s.1d. per gallon.
Those are the grounds on which we recommended the duty; it was done at the express request of a New South Wales witness.
.- I can see no necessity for this duty. The crude naphthaline is to be admitted duty free, and as there may be something in the manufacture of preparations of naphthaline from the crude material, a duty of 15 per cent. should be quite sufficient.
– I wish to combat the statement that naphthaline is not produced here. Naphthaline and benzine are produced in large quantities at the refinery works of the Commonwealth Oil Company, near Lithgow. In the course of a few days I shall have samples here of all the oils manufactured by the company. Perhaps the Minister would postpone the item in the meantime.
– Then I merely wish to say that if it were postponed I should be able to furnish ample evidence that naphthaline is manufactured in Australia in hundreds of gallons.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) put -
That the words “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, ad val., 15 per cent.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That after the words “ 25 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 4th December, 1907, ad val. (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.,” be added.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 281. Cyanide of potassium, free.
.- I move -
That after the word “ potassium “ the words “ sodium, and bromide salts,” be inserted.
All those things are used in the one process. The cyanide of sodium would not be distinguishable from the cyanide of potassium, and I understand that the bromide salts are used to liven up the solution when it is beginning to get “ dead.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 282 (Voltoids of sal-ammoniac), agreed to.
Item 283. Insecticides, sheep washes, and disinfectants, n.e.i, - free.
– I shouldlike the Minister to agree to place a duty on disinfectants, such as phenyles and other liquid preparations. So much tar is produced here in the gasworks that a lot of it is buried. We have hardly attempted the manufacture of all the by-products of tar.
– Where do they bury the tar?
– I do not say that that is being done at present, but it has been practically given away in Victoria. A duty might also be placed on liquid sheep washes, sheep -branding preparations, and insecticides. A number of powders are also used, including carbolic preparations.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– As I. was saying prior to the adjournment for lunch, large quantities of these phenyles, sheep dips, and disinfectants generally are used in Australia; and I have all the effrontery of a protectionist when I state that since the commencement of the local manufacture, prices have been considerably reduced. What I suggest is that cresylic acid, crude creosote oil, tar oil, and carbolic acid should be free; that phenyles, liquid disinfectants, liquid sheep-washes, insecticides, sheep-branding preparations, and saponaceous mixture of creosote should bear a duty of2s. per gallon; and that a new item, consisting of powder or paste sheepdips and carbolic powder preparations, be made dutiable at 10s. per 100 lbs.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will not make the alteration suggested in the item under discussion.
– Why not?
– Under the old Tariff this item was free, and the Treasurer must know that more sheep dip is used in Australia than, perhaps, in any other part of the world. In South Australia it is compulsory to clip sheep once a year, or, perhaps, twice a year, according to the discretion of the inspector. I am sure that the Treasurer, who is familiar with all matters connected with stock, would not do anything to injure or hamper those more particularly interested.
– Does not the honorable member think that all articles of this class should be manufactured in Australia?
– I repeat that under the old Tariff this item was free ; and we all know that every farmer keeps sheep.
– What would this small duty mean to a farmer?
– It might mean a good deal. There are not only farmers, but poultry-keepers, sheep-raisers, and owners of horses, to be considered.
.- I desire to read the following letter from Dr. Bull, of the Melbourne University -
The University of Melbourne, 14th October,1907.
J. Wiltshire, Esq.,
Dear Sir, -I have tested the disinfectant strength of your phenyle, and certify that, under the standard laboratory conditions, the bacillus of typhoid fever was destroyed in five minutes in a” dilution of one part phenyle to 150 parts of water. The phenyle is, therefore, three times as potent as carbolic acid (Schering’s).
I have here also another certificate by Dr. Bull, which appears on the circular of Messrs. Morris. Little. & Son. the proprietors of Little’s phenyle, as follows: -
I have tested the disinfectant strength of a sample of Little’s soluble phenyle forwarded by you. I certify that, under standard laboratory conditions, the disinfectant destroyed the bacillus of typhoid fever in five minutes in a dilution of 1 in 300 of distilled water. The details are appended in the table, from which it will be noticed that your disinfectant proved half as strong again as carbolic acid.
It will be seen from these two certificates that Australian phenyle is twice as strong as the imported phenyle.
– There are other sheep dips than that of Messrs. Morris, Little, & Son.
– And there are more Australian sheep dips than that of Mr. Wiltshire. I have quoted one Australian phenyle as against one imported phenyle, and have shown that the Australian article is twice as strong as the imported article. I trust that the Treasurer will insist on a duty being imposed. Manufacturers of these dips and disinfectants will have to pay a duty on their bottles and packages, and observe Australian conditions of labour ; and I trust to see this industry firmly established.
. -I should like to read a Sydney analysis of Australian sheep dip as compared with Quibell’s dip. It is as follows-
We hand you the analysis, made by Mr. C. A. Burnet, of Quibell’s sheep dip, Little’s phenyle, and our “Triumph” brand of sheep dip, and “Triumph” phenyle: -
Sheep dip is imported in a concentrated form, and water has to be added after its arrival ; but the importer is so anxious about the welfare of the community that a certain percentage of water is added before its arrival. Honorable members should be made aware that, not only in Victoria, but in other States, there is being manufactured sheep dip which will compare most favorably with the imported article. Honorable members may ask why the local producers do not obtain the whole of the trade. The reason is simply because, like other Australian manufacturers, they have to compete not only against enormous capital, but also against enormous prejudice. As a matter of fact, it is prejudice which prevents the local manufacturers obtaining the market. Only a little while ago, £10,000 worth of sheep dip was landed here at something like onethird below ordinary cost.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ ordinary cost “ - the selling price?
– Yes; the ordinary selling price.
– How many times has that been done?
– That is one case.
– One case, and, therefore, a duty for ever!
– I am giving a specific case. The importer, by reason of his greater capital, is able to employ large numbers of advertising agents; and it is in this connexion that the local manufacturer is seriously crippled. The latter has not the capital at his command necessary to send agents throughout the length and breadth of the country; and we all know that orders are generally secured by travellers who personally call on the squatters and farmers.
– Surely the local manufacturer can pay a commission to travellers?
– The local manufacturer cannot afford to pay anything like the commission that is allowed by the importer. Travellers are either paid salary and commission, or commission only ; and the person who is able to send out large numbers of travellers is able to compete successfully against the man who has to depend on ordinary newspaper advertising. This industry has already been established in Australia; and, as pointed out by the honorable member for Yarra, those engaged in it have to pay duty on the bottles and tins they use.
– Tin is free.
– I am glad to hear it.
– It is strange that those engaged in the industry did not ask the Tariff Commission for any assistance.
– I do not think that the honorable member is quite correct in his suggestion. At any rate, those engaged in the industry have appealed to me, and to this Committee, for assistance, seeing that they have sent circulars to honorable members.
– I did not get a circular.
– Perhaps they knew from the honorable member’s predilections that he was not likely to be favorable. It is true that the duty has been taken off a portion of the raw material of this industry to the extent of 6d. per gallon ; but that is a small matter when we consider what is necessary in the manufacture of disinfectants.
– Is the honorable member advocating a duty on disinfectants?
– I am surprised at the honorable member.
– Of course the honorable member is surprised, though he ought not to be, when we recollect that the local production is equal, if not superior, to the imported article. It is only because of prejudice on the part of people like the honorable member that the local manufacturers are unable to secure the market to which they are entitled. I hope the Committee will agree to a reasonable duty.
– The Tariff Commission, in their report, say -
A firm in New South Wales, it was stated, was prepared to largely manufacture a valuable sheep dip from saponaceous mixture of creosote, provided that adequate protection was provided. This sheep dip is produced on a very limited scale at present.
The evidence as it stood was very meagre; and, therefore, we did not feel justified in recommending a duty. I have no hesitation, however, in saying that if the information now laid before honorable members had been available to the Tariff Commission a duty would have been recommended. I find that not only are these disinfectants made in New South Wales, but that there are nineteen manufacturers in Victoria.
– There are two manufacturers in South Australia.
– Did the South Australian manufacturers approach the Tariff Commission ?
– No; but had they done so their case would have been given favorable consideration. In view of the new information available, I shall support the Treasurer if he proposes a duty
– From the arguments which have been advanced, it appears that Australian phenyle, as a sheep wash, is far superior to the imported article. It seems to me, therefore, that the industry is one which does not require protection. If it were otherwise, the representatives of the firms which have embarked upon it would have given evidence before the Tariff Commis-. sion. To levy a duty upon insecticides, sheep washes, and disinfectants, in a country like Australia, where there are so many insect pests, is altogether out of the question. Further, any Customs impost would not induce stock owners to purchase a particular sheep wash in preference to others on account of its slightly decreased cost. Their great object is to obtain the very best sheep wash that is procurable, altogether regardless of its price. Consequently sheep washes should be admitted free. If imported sheep washes are superior to the Australian article they will command the trade, and vice versa. I hope that the Treasurer will stand firm upon this item.
– I can indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Laanecoorie in regard to the prejudice which exists against Australian disinfectants. No difficulty whatever is experienced in manufacturing them. As a matter of fact, they are being made in South Australia at the present time.
– The manufacturers could not have required the aid of a duty very badly. Otherwise they would have appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– It may be that they were too busy to attend before that body. But the question which we have to determine is, “ Can these disinfectants be produced in the Commonwealth, and are they capable of doing all that is required of them?” As a matter of fact they are being made in Australia, and I have the assurance of Messrs. Faulding and Company that the disinfectants which they manufacture will accomplish all that is claimed for them.
– Do they make a sheep wash?
– Yes. I hold in my hand a certificate by R. J. Bull, M.D., B.S., Director of the Bacteriological Laboratory at the Melbourne University, dated 27th January, 1907, and addressed to Messrs. McKellan and Ramsay, which reads -
I have tested the disinfecting strength of a sample of phenyle (McKellan and Ramsay), received on 22nd December, 10,06, and certify that, under standard laboratory conditions, the bacillus of typhoid fever was destroyed in five minutes, when the disinfectant was employed in. a dilution of 1 : 400 in distilled water.
– There is no occasion tq fear any more typhoid fever then ?
– I am quoting absolute evidence. Dr. Bull states that -
A dilution of 1 : 400 was equivalent to carbolic acid, 1 : 100, indicating that the former was four times as powerful as carbolic acid as a disinfectant.
Surely that is conclusive evidence that we can produce in the Commonwealth any kind of disinfectant that may be required. I am sure that the Treasurer will recognise that this is a fair item upon which to impose a duty.
.- I should like to know what is the precise nature of the proposal before the Committee.
– Half-a-dozen honorable members have suggested that this item should bear a duty.
– Who made the suggestion in the first instance?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– Considering the frequency with which that honorable member has voted against the Government. I hope that the Treasurer will not be influenced by his representations. I trust that he will strictly adhere to the Government proposal. To stock owners it is a matter of the utmost importance that sheep washes should be admitted free. Instead of endeavouring to increase their price to the consumer we ought to do everything in our power to lessen it. I hope that the Treasurer will not allow even one of his supporters to influence him in this matter.
– I wish to read a few figures which will effectually dispose of the contention of the honorable member for Oxley that the imposition of a duty upon this item will have the effect of increasing the cost of the articles specified therein. The particular sheep wash, the price of which I intend to quote, is being manufactured in Melbourne.
– That information is quite sufficient. The honorable member cannot see beyond Victoria, and a little portion of Sydney.
– This sheep wash isbeing manufactured from a recipe supplied by sheep-dip manufacturers in the Old Country. It is identical in every respect with the dip which is imported by, this company. Yet the price charged to the user for the imported article in 5-gaUon. drums is 6s. per gallon, whilst the priceof the Australian wash to the consumer is only 4s. per gallon.
– The sheep-owners must be very bad judges of quality.
– The honorable member has had as much experience as has any honorable member of the benefits which flow from advertising. All that I have said about the opportunities which outside firms enjoy for ruling the people of Australia seems to have fallen upon deaf ears.
– Sheep washes are made by some of the biggest firms in Australia.
– I have spoken of only two firms, neither of which are very large. They are merely struggling concerns. The 40-gallon casks containing this sheep wash from abroad are sold to the user at 5s. 6d. per gallon, whilst the Australian article is supplied to him at 3s.9d. per gallon. It will be seen, therefore, that the statement of the honorable member tor Oxley is an utterly fallacious one. Further, I hold in my hand an undertaking from the manufacturer of this particular sheep wash, that if a duty be imposed upon the imported article, he will not increase the price of the Australian article to the consumer.
– For how long? For three months ?
– The honorable member is begging the question. The manufacturer will guarantee that the sheep wash which is at present being supplied to the consumer for 331/2 per cent. less than is the imported article, will continue to be supplied at its present price.
– The honorable member must be a simple Simon to quote that sort of undertaking.
– It is not worth the paper upon which it is written.
– Honorable members opposite affirm that if we impose a duty upon this item the cost of sheep washes will be increased, and the moment that I submit evidence to refute their statements they say that I must be a simple Simon.
– The honorable member produces an undertaking which might last for only one day.
– Parliament would be impotent indeed if it permitted a manufacturer to trifle with it in that fashion.
– The price of the raw material of the wash might be increased.
– In that case Parliament would not dream of holding the manufacturer to his engagement.
.- It is a shame that the Treasurer should listen for a moment to a suggestion to levy a duty upon this item. The articles specified in it were admitted free under the old Tariff and the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission have also recommended that they should be placed upon the list of special exemptions. Strangely enough, the free-trade section of that body recommended that they should be dutiable at 5 per cent. These facts furnish convincing evidence that the question is one which should be considered from two points of view. Various reasons have been advanced in favour of the imposition of a duty. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has brought forward the stale argument that by adopting that course the price of the articles would not be increased. Yet we hear complaints every day that the imposition of duties under this Tariff has led to an increase in the price of goods. That circumstance, I think, effectually disposes of the honorable member’s contention. . Unfortunately, we have persons coming to the precincts of the Chamber and button-holing various honorable members. From what I have noticed this morning, and also this afternoon, I suspect that the honorable member for Kooyong is in favour of. increasing this duty. ‘ I do not see any reason why I should not mention an incident of that sort. It is not right that this button-holing should take place. Only the other day, a man sued in a Court for the payment of a certain sum because he had influenced the votes of honorable members on items in the last Tariff.
– We have had the principal agent of the free-traders about the premises since the consideration of the Tariff began.
– I propose to read a letter which I have received from a gentleman who is interested in the question of sheep dips and disinfectants, and who represents Arnold’s Balsam Co. If this industry is fairly established in Australia - and I think we have good ground to believe that it is - there is no reason why a protective duty should be imposed. The Chairman of theA section of the Tariff Commission quoted the evidence of Mr. E. Dearman. I notice that the witness stated that this article was not produced in quite such a large way. as it might be, and the reason which he gave for that state of things was not the want of a duty, but simply the fact that people would not buy the local article. He asserted that not only was there a prejudice against the local article, but that it existed to such an extent that the local article was sold under an English name, so that the imposition of a duty has very little to do with the matter. My correspondent, who represents Arnold’s Balsam Co., says -
We are importers of “ phenyle,” mentioned in the .Tariff as a saponaceous compound of cresylic acid, carbolic acid, tar, &c. The duty proposed is 6d. per gallon. For years this has been made in the different States from coal tar, to be had in large quantities from the gas-works. The formula is simple, very little labour required. lt is sold in Melbourne by Chas. Atkins and Co., 472 Flinders-street, at is. 4½d. per gallon, and Morris and Ladwig, Prahran, at the same price. The cos’t to make will work out at under is. per gallon. In our opinion there is no necessity for a duh ; the freight is sufficient protection.
– One fellow saw the honorable member for Kooyong, and the other fellow saw the honorable gentleman.
– This man did not see me; but he forwarded to me this letter which I have quoted in support of my argument. He states that, in his opinion, there is no necessity for a duty, and that the freight is quite sufficient protection to the local manufacturers. When an item of this kind is brought under consideration, It is only right that the Committee should hear both sides of the question. The letter I have read represents one side of this question, and if honorable members wish it, I am prepared .to quote from several letters which I have received, and which will support an argument to the contrary effect. I have received a letter from McKellan & Ramsay, chemical manufacturers. of 62 and 64 Bouverie-street, Carlton, with a town office at 317 Little Collinsstreet, Melbourne. No doubt, honorable members will recognise that the writers are quite capable of expressing an opinion. They write in these terms -
We write to bring under your notice a gross anomaly which affects the disinfectant and sheep dip manufacturers. Under the present Tariff, coal-tar oil and carbolic acid, both formerly free, are now dutiable at 6d. per gallon, wherens disinfectants and sheep dips are admitted free.
Coal-tar oil and carbolic acid form the raw materials in our manufactures, and thus we have the absurd anomaly - raw material, duty 6d. per gallon, manufactured article admitted free.
We would respectfully ask that the duty on coal-tar oil and carbolic acid (our_ raw material) he at once removed, and .1 duty placed on disinfectants and sheep di”s, and the duty on saponaceous mixture of creosote increased, as the local manufacturers (numbering at least nineteen in Victoria) could easily manufacture enough disinfectants and sheep dips to supply the. whole of the Commonwealth, if they were protected.
There are one or two matters to which I desire to draw the attention of honorable members. A manufacturer of sheep dips and phenyle writes-
Regarding item 279 in the Tariff, we wish to bring before your notice the anomaly, of placing the duty of 6d. per gallon on carbolic acid and tar oil, while allowing sheep dips and phenyle to come in free.
All phenyles as Little’s, Jeyes’ fluid, Quibell’s, &c, and all liquid sheep dips such as Cooper’s, Quibell’s, &c.,’ are made by treating carbolic acid and tar oil with soda to make soluble, then dissolving with resin. We do an extensive business in the manufacture of sheep dips and phenyle, and our manufactures are identical in composition with the above brands.
In importing tar oil and carbolic acid we have to pay 6d. per gallon duty. We then mix with soda and resin as above explained and manufacture into sheep dip and phenyle.
By instructing the manufacturers of carbolic acid and tar oil to neutralise them with soda and dissolve with resin it comes in free either as sheep clip or phenyle. This anomaly works out very unfairly, and as the phenyles and liquid sheep dips are made from carbolic acid and tar oil, the whole group of products should be either free or dutiable.
Here is a gentleman who is arguing in one instance in favour of a duty, and who recommends that the whole group of products should be, as he puts it, “either free or dutiable.” He goes on to say -
The analyses of duty free Little’s phenyle and Cooper’s sheep dip, as undernoted, Will indicate this very plainly : -
I have several other letters in my possession, but no doubt most honorable members have received a copy of each letter, and studied its contents at their leisure. This is another instance in’ which, for the sake of bolstering up a few miserable manufacturers within the limits of the cities, our great primary industries are to be taxed. We know very well that these disinfectants and sheep dips are what might almost be called the raw material of the wool-growers. For that reason alone they should be able to purchase them as cheaply as possible. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has attempted to argue that if we place a heavy duty on the articles, they will become cheaper, but I think I have shown’ conclusively that his argument was entirely without any weight. I am opposed to the imposition of a duty. The Minister, in his wisdom, has proposed that the article should be free. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission made no comment on the matter: very little evidence was placed before him. Every one knows that the Treasurer is the last man to show want of backbone. If any one can sit tight and fast he can do so. I trust that on this item he will sit tight and fast as he has done on other occasions, and will refuse to have his schedule altered.
– I wish to protest against the sweeping generalities in which the honorable member for Hunter has indulged. He has spoken about this being a petty and miserable manufacturing industry confined to the limits of a. few cities. The manufacture of disinfectants and sheep dips is so easy that they are made in many country towns in New South Wales. Apart from several manufactories in Sydney, there is a company operating in Bathurst. The question of the duty on creosote and tar oils was involved in the question of the duty on sheep dips, but now that these oils have been made free, it is only consistent on the part of the Government to impose an effective protective duty on disinfectants and sheep dips, particularly on the latter. The honorable member for Hunter mentioned the constituent parts of certain sheep dips without making any deduction from them. The deduction is that the constituent parts of the local article go to show that it is much stronger and much more efficacious than the imported article, and it is sold at a cheaper price. The imposition of a duty could not possibly have the effect of raising the price because, as I mentioned, almost any one can make the article. The manufacturers give the whole formula without any reservation so that any one can obtain the material parts and mix the dip for themselves. If anything calls for a duty I maintain that this article does. The imported article is decidedly inferior to that which is locally made.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that Quibell’s dip is inferior to the locally-made article?
– I do. The honorable member, as a medical practitioner knowing the value of these ingredients, should be aware of that.
– A medical practitioner is not supposed to know anything about sheep dips.
– I should have thought that the rudiments of medicine ‘ would have taught a man the value of these materials, and that one who professed to know anything about medicine would be aware that when certain constituents appear in a certain mixture of greater strength than in another mixture - presuming that strength is desired - the stronger must be the more efficacious. No harm has ever been done by the local article, though it is stronger than the imported dip. I. strongly support the demand for a duty.
– The recommendation of the Tariff Commission with regard to this item was that it should be free. It was free under the old Tariff and it is free under the Tariff proposed by the Government. I am one of those who believe that as protection is the policy of the country we should give a reasonable amount of protection on a commodity which can be manufactured in Australia. But this is a commodity which affects the largest producing interest in the Commonwealth.
Mr.Carr. - Does the honorable member say that sheep dip cannot be made in Australia ?
-I have not said anything of the sort. As it can be made in. Australia, the makers are entitled to a measure of protection. But in view of the great importance of the industry, affecting not only large sheep stations but small farmers and the bulk of the people generally - it is one which we cannot afford to trifle with. I should not have risen except for the statement of the honorable member for Laanecoorie to the effect that certain manufacturers of this commodity in Australia were prepared to give a guarantee that the price would not be increased to the consumer. I view guarantees of that sort with a great deal of suspicion. We must take every precaution to see that the cost of these commodities is not increased.
– Local competition will keep the price down.
Mr.PALMER.- I hold in my hand a statement - a copy of which has been sent to every honorable member - which shows the value of guarantees that prices will not be increased. As a matter of fact, the stern logic of events proves that in regard to almost every item in the Tariff, where an increased duty has been imposed, an increased price to the consumer has- followed. Numerous invoices have been produced in this Chamber to prove that statement. The honorable member for Laanecoorie assures us that some person who is. making these sheep dips is prepared to give a guarantee. I reply that the value of such guarantees is shown by a document that has been forwarded to honorable members by Mr. McDougall, of the firm of Sands and McDougall. His letter contains the following paragraph -
In giving my evidence before the Tariff Commission, I said that if the duty on strawboard was increased by £1 per ton, the Australian Paper Mills Co. Pty., Limited, would not increase their price for strawboard ; but as the House of Representatives has not yet dealt with that item, we have a perfect right to increase our price until such time as the duty is determined upon.
In view of that statement, coming from one who gave a guarantee that the price of an article would not be increased as the result ‘of a duty, what value can be attached to such a statement as has been made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie? Although my vote may be at variance with what may be supposed to be protectionist policy, I am determined to cast it in such a direction that the larger interests of this community shall not be sacrificed for the benefit of the smaller ones.
.- I understand that it is not possible for a private member to move to increase a duty or to add a new duty to the Tariff. I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he intends to propose a duty in regard to the commodity with which we are dealing? If he does not we are wasting time in discussing it. If he does, I shall have a little more to say hereafter.
– I think that there is a great deal in some of the statements which have been made. There is no question in my mind that the commodities under discussion can be successfully made in Australia. I intend to test the feeling of the Committee upon the point by proposing a new item. I therefore move -
That the words “ and on and after 5th December, 1907, 283A, Phenyles, liquid disinfectants, liquid sheep washes, insecticides, sheep-branding preparations, per gallon, 2S. ; (n) Sheep dips and carbolic preparations in powder or paste form, per cwt, 10s. ; (c), Disinfectants n.e.i., free,” be added.
I have listened very attentively to the statements which have been made, and think that there is a great deal in them. An honorable member remarked in the course of the debate that I know something about this matter. So I do. I believe that I know as much about it as any one present, and I know that the best sheep dips are made in ^Australia. The bulk of them ought to be made here. There should be no importations in this line at all. It is ridiculous to say that the simple mixtures which these commodities are cannot be made in Australia. A very strong expression of opinion has been given this afternoon in regard to the matter, and I have determined to test the feeling of honorable members by taking a vote upon the new item which I have submitted.
.- I should like to ask the Treasurer to consider the advisableness of attaching the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to the Trade and Customs Department. The Minister in charge of this Tariff, with all the resources of the Government ‘ at his command, with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission to boot, and with the assistance of Dr. Wollaston and his officers, only discovers to-day that sheep washes can be made in Australia, and that, therefore, a duty ought to be imposed. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is possessed of knowledge which is without the ken of men whose special duty it is to investigate such matters, the Minister ought to give him a huge salary, and attach him to the Department.
– I quite agree that I am worth more than I get !
– There is no doubt that the honorable member is earning more than his .£600 a year, judging from what has occurred to-day. I make the suggestion to the Treasurer in all seriousness that he should discharge some of his officers and give the honorable member the run of the Department. I am sure he would look after the revenue.
– The honorable member was complaining yesterday that the officers of the Department gave the Minister too much information ; to-day he is complaining that they do not give enough.
– The officers seem to know nothing about these matters at all. The goods in question have always been free. Only to-day - after the Chairman of the Tariff Commission has inquired into the subject, he being a strong protectionist, almost a prohibitionist in some things, and after all the resources of the Department have been utilized - it is discovered on the floor of the House that we want a high duty upon sheep washes and disinfectants.
– Not a high duty.
– I understand that what is proposed does not amount to more than about 50 per cent. That, of course, is a small duty from the honorable member’s point of view. But what does he regard as a high duty? Yesterday he was clamouring for duties up to 200 per cent, and 300 per cent, to be retained. What would the honorable member regard as a high duty?
– Just exactly the opposite to what the honorable member would regard as a high duty.
– That is about as reasonable an answer as could be expected from the honorable member. But unreasonable as he proves himself to be, he is able to dictate a policy to the Department of Trade and Customs. He is able to dictate a protectionist policy for Australia. I congratulate him. I congratulate the Minister on his susceptibility. Hitherto, it appears’, the ignorance of the Department and the ignorance of the Minister were in need of enlightenment.
– Mr. Kingston proposed a duty on the same goods.
– Surely the Treasurer, before introducing this Tariff, investigated the history of the last one. If Mr. Kingston proposed a duty, why were the goods made free?
– Because the importers lobbied so successfully while the last Tariff was under consideration. . .
– Did they lobby the Minister to make the goods free? I think that the honorable member ought to stop these explanations, which are really a -reflection upon the Treasurer.
– The Treasurer is absent just now. Who is in charge?
– Unfortunately, the Minister in charge of the Trade and Customs Department at present seems to be a perfect cypher in regard to the whole question.
– The Postmaster-General seems to be in charge just now.
– I despair of asking him for an explanation about anything. We had evidence the other day of the stores of knowledge that are wrapped up in his cranium. I ‘ do not wish to go to that source of information. It is about time that the Treasurer either pleaded total ignorance in regard to most of the matters connected with the Tariff and acknowledged that he is prepared to accept the direction of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, whom he might very well attach to his Department, or investigated matters for himself. He told us that he knew all about sheep, having had to do with them all his life, and was therefore quite aware how his proposal would affect the pastoral industry. If he considered that the local manufacture of sheep dips should be protected, why did he not provide for its protection when framing the Tariff, or move in that direction when the last Tariff was under consideration. One begins to understand the criticism’ of the Minister of Defence, that the Treasurer seems to know nothing, about protection except when he is out of office. Now that he is in office, he has to take, his policy from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The proposed duty is outrageously high. I am told that sheep dips are sold here at 4s. a gallon.
– The imported dips cost 5s. and 6s. a gallon.
– The pastoral industry is the basis of the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and why should we lay it under tribute, to give employment to persons in making sheep dips. We should rather take action -in the direction of cheapening all the requirements of the industry. But the Minister in the hands of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is like a marionette pulled with strings.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta has found fault with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for suggesting the imposition of n. duty on sheep dip. Let me refresh the memory of the Committee as to what occurred when this item was under discussion in connexion with the consideration of the old Tariff. The Treasurer was a Minister in the Protectionist Government which introduced that Tariff, the Government being supported by strong protectionists such as the then, honorable member for New England, Mr. Sawers, and the then honorable member for Gwydir, the late Mr. Cruickshank. But when the item sheep dip was under consideration, Mr. Sawers, who was a pastoralist, strongly supported a motion that it be placed on the free list, and that proposition was also supported by Mr. Cruickshank and carried. Apparently “the sheep in the large .pastoral properties owned by the honorable member for Melbourne Port’s on the shores of Hobson’s Bay do not need dipping, and therefore he is ready to impose a tax on sheep dip. The Minister on the last occasion had nothing to say against sheep dip being admitted duty free. He then knew as much about’ the pastoral industry as he knows now, and as much about the manufacture pf sheep dip, and yet he did not suggest that it be made dutiable. The proposed duty of 2:s. per gallon is largely duty on water. As the honorable member for Barker has pointed out, disinfectants are used in connexion with other live stock besides sheep. The proposed tax would be a very heavy one on primary producers, and therefore I hope that it will not be agreed to, and that sheep dip will be placed on the free list.
-25l- - The Treasurer should stick to his original proposal, and not spring an amendment of this sort on the Committee at a moment’s notice. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is always ready to build up city businesses at the expense of country industries. Every farmer has to use disinfectants of one kind and another in connexion with live stock, and a ‘medical man like the honorable member for Laanecoorie should be one of the’ first to encourage their use, because the greater the precautions against disease, the greater the health of the community, and of the stock, and the larger the production of the country.
– Disinfectants are used in connexion with the cultivation of plants.
– Yes; they are used for cattle, sheep, poultry and plants.
– The duty will not raise the price.
– One of the witnesses before the Tariff Commission guaranteed that if the duty which he suggested were agreed to, he would not raise his price. But when he found that some of his requirements had been made dutiable, he paid no regard to that statement, and increased his charges. I was also told that shortly after the Tariff was introduced, the price of a certain kind of bottle was to be increased by 2s. 6d. per gross. Those who are making sheep dips in Australia have been engaged in the business long enough to be able to do without this protection. If their dips are valuable, the pastoral and farming community will buy them, because those engaged in rearing sheep know what best suits their business. They would not use imported dips if they thought Australian dips were better. The proposed duty is equal to 50 per cent, ad valorem on the cheaper imported dips, though it is not so high on concentrated dips, such as Cooper’s, which cost ros. per gallon. The proposed duty will be a tax on primary production, and against the interests of the public health. The honorable member for Laanecoorie ought to encourage the use of disinfectants.
– The imported dips are 50 per cent.- dearer than the locally-made dips, although they are admitted free of duty..
– The pastoralists and farmers are not fools, and if they pay more for imported dips, they do so because they know that those dips are better than the locally-made dips.
– Many people drink imported wine in preference to Australian wine.
– That does not concern me. I have always been in favour of the reduction of the wine duties, which have been imposed largely for revenue purposes. In’ my opinion, the wine-making industry does not need protection of that kind. I hope that the Treasurer will reconsider his proposal.
– The honorable member for Grampians is, perhaps, unaware of the fact that the value of our imports of dips and disinfectants in 1903 was £29,000, whereas those imported in 1906 were valued at £52,000.
– - In 1906 we had far more sheep in Australia.
– The imports in 1905 were valued at .£51,000, and in 1904 at £4 I,000. There has been a strong expression of opinion in favour of a duty on sheep dips, and I have been asked to submit this proposal to the Committee since it is not competent for a private member to do so. It is a disgrace to Australia that even a gallon of these dips should be imported, and- the big men who introduce it are not in sympathy with Australian sentiment.
– And yet the Tariff as introduced provided that sheep-dips should be free.
– Yes j but that was because of the recommendation of the protective section of the Tariff Commission, and because also sheep dips were free under the old Tariff. It seems to me that a large number of people are antiAustralian, and are prepared to obtain what they want anywhere but in the Commonwealth.
– Do not use that sort of argument.
– The honorable member is also in it.
– Why should the honorable member be a better Australian than I am?
– I think that I am
– It is impertinent on the part of the honorable member to say so. .
– Order. These interjections must cease.
– I do not wish the whole afternoon to be devoted to a discussion of this item. I felt that it was my duty to submit the amendment so that honorable members might have an opportunity to express an opinion upon the question.
– In the Tariff of 1901 a duty of only 15 per cent, was proposed, but. the House decided that the item should be free.
– This is a much superior House, from a protectionist standpoint, to that of 1901. If’ the Committee desire a more moderate duty, let some honorable member take action. I shall not object. I merely wish to have the question settled.
-351- - The concluding observations of the Treasurer must commend themselves to the Committee ; but I certainly do not appreciate the arguments he used at the outset of his speech. He is accustomed to resort to them when he does not get his own way, and to insinuate that .those who are opposed to him are anti-Australian. By what process of reasoning he arrives at the conclusion that he is a better Australian than those, who happen fo differ with him on the Tariff I do not know, and to use such an argument is only to be offensive. As to the item itself, I think that sheep dips and disinfectants should be free. New discoveries are constantly being made, and there should be no obstacle in the way of the introduction of any improved disinfectant or insecticide into Australia. Our climatic conditions are such that we have to fight against pests of all kinds, which attack both live stock and plant life, and I am of opinion that it would not be in the interests of the country to impose a duty on sheep dips, insecticides, and disinfectants. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has said that local manufacturers ,of these articles are able to sell their products at one- third less than the price charged for the imported article. That being so, it cannot be said that they need protection. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that sheep dips should be free, and, as has been pointed out, the proposal in the first Federal Tariff that the duty should be 15 per cent, was rejected. I hope that the item will stand as printed.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [3-391- - I propose to move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ preparations,” paragraph a, the word “free.”
If my amendment be rejected, I shall move” a further amendment, providing for the reduction to is. of the duty proposed by the Treasurer.
– I should like to know, Mr, Chairman, whether the amendment is in order. Is it not substantially the same as the motion on which the amendment has been made?
– The amendment relates only to paragraph a. The honorable member intends, I understand, in the event of his amendment being carried, to move the omission of the figure “2s.” I rule that his amendment of the amendment is in order.
.- I hope that the Treasurer will not persevere with his proposal. It has been suddenly sprung on the Committee, and we have no opportunity to inquire into its probable effect. Sheep wash is used to a large extent to improve the quality of the wool, and so to increase its value. If the manufacture of disinfectants in Australia were an extensive industry, I should be in favour of granting a reasonable duty.
– I should be very much’ surprised if the honorable member were.
– It suits the Treasurer to make such remarks, but when I am voting with him no one is more ready than he is to speak approvingly of me. We know that he has to say these things to keep his end up, and we do not blame him. This proposal made me gasp when I first Heard of it.
– I dare “say it would. It would probably cost the honorable member something too.
– No ; I do not have much dipping to do. Most of my properties are in Queensland, and the climate there assists us in dealing with these pests. I am speaking now in the interests of New South Wales, Victorian, and Tasmanian wool-growers, who should receive a certain amount of consideration. The Treasurer has suddenly seized on a suggestion made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, our Bourke-street farmer.
– It was made by about a dozen honorable members.
– We should be given an opportunity to look carefully into the matter, and should not be rushed headlong into carrying a duty which might do a great deal of harm.
– 1 have listened with interest to the arguments on this item. What sheep-owners require is not a cheap, but an effective sheep dip, one which will do the work required of it. Any quantity of cheap disinfectants might be poured into a drain or sewer, but if they were not effective for the purpose of destroying the bacillus of typhoid, the spread of the disease would not be checked. I am inclined in this matter’ to support the proposed duty in order to secure the preparation of an efficient sheep dip in Australia. If such an article were manufactured here, local, competition would regulate the price, and if it were found that local manufacturers formed a trust or combine to keep up prices, I should be willing to have the Government take over the whole business. It is most important that our people should be in a position to. obtain reliable medicines of all kinds and effective disinfectants, and in this connexion the Government might well be asked to interfere in the interests of the health of the people, as well as of the progress of our industries. Money spent upon ineffective disinfectants is only thrown away. With a view to having this preparation made under local supervision, I shall support the proposed duty. At the same time, I ask the Treasurer to give consideration to the question pf requiring every package of imported disinfectants to be accompanied by a certificate as to the nature and strength of the preparations. It is quite time that we dealt a blow at the importation of the rubbish which is introduced in the form of chemical preparations.
.- The arguments of the honorable member for New England would be efficacious if used in opposition to the duty. The honorable member is quite right in saying that what sheep-owners require is not a cheap, but an effective sheep dip. I suppose it is on that account that imported disinfectants are able to find a sale. We have been informed that locally manufactured disinfectants are sold at 4s. per gallon, whilst the imported article is sold at from 5s. to 6s. per gallon. This shows that what is wanted is not increased protection through the Tariff. No matter what may be added to the price of the imported article, those who prefer it will continue to use it.
– Then we shall never sell any Australian iron.
– If the manufacturer who requires to use the best iron believes the imported article to be the best, he will buy it. When we find that the local article is sold for two-thirds of the price asked for the imported article, we must look to some means other than a protective duty to force the. local article upon the market against the will of the consumer. I protested the other night against the Treasurer springing new items on the Committee, and I now repeat the protest. It is utterly impossible for honorable members to deal properly with this question on the spur of the moment. The result of the imposition of the proposed duty will probably be to force people to use tobacco disinfectant, since we have already agreed that tobacco used in the manufacture of sheep dip is to be admitted free.
– We have agreed to admit carbolic oil and palm oil free.
– And they, as well as tobacco, are the raw materials of sheep dips.
– The discussion on this item proves how necessary it is that the Treasurer should keep the promise he made to give honorable members notice of the amendments he intended to propose. T enter mv protest against the line of argument adopted by the honorable gentleman, that because we do not see eye to eye with him and those, behind him we have not the interest of the country as much at heart as they have.
– I” common with other honorable members, I think it is rather a pity that this new item should have been sprung upon the Committee at the last moment, when honorable members have no opportunity to sufficiently consider it. When, as in this case, both the Government and the Tariff Commission propose that an article shall be admitted free, honorable members are justified in assuming that the item will go through in that form, and are, therefore, not likely to look into the question. Consistently with my protectionist principles, I always lend a ready ear to any argument in support of the establishment and development of Australian industries. The arguments put forward in this instance have influenced me to a certain extent, but not sufficiently to induce me to support the duties proposed by the Treasurer. The honorable gentleman proposes a duty of 2s. per gallon, and of 10s. per cwt. on powder disinfectants. I think these duties should be reduced by one half. I am sorry that the item should have been brought forward in the way it has been, and. while I am prepared to support a reasonable duty of, say, is. per gallon, I am opposed to the present proposal of the Minister.
.- The arguments used by the honorable member for New England are futile. I can see ‘ no justification whatever for the imposition of a duty upon a sheep dip mixture or any other form of disinfectant. It should not be forgotten that the interests of the country are bound up with the interests of the stock industry. Honorable members must be aware that all sorts of pests are constantly threatening those engaged in that industry. It is not so long ago since we had to face the tick pest, and had to discover a dip to deal with it effectively.
– And we did not have to import it either.
– I am glad that we did not have to import it while the present Government were in power, because it is very likely that we should have had to pay a duty of 5s. per gallon on it. We have here a sweeping provision to impose a heavy tax on dip mixtures which might be. patented elsewhere, but which the owners of stock might be obliged to get. It is difficult to discover the most effective mixture for certain purposes, and it took some years of experimental work to discover an effective dip for the tick pest. The Government propose an absolutely prohibitive tax, and even the duty of is. per gallon suggested by the honorable member for Wimmera would be much too high. It. would mean a duty of 5s. on a 5-gallon drum of what might be a patent mixture. Many honorable members in this House have a knowledge of the rearing of stock, and they know what the effect of such a duty is likely to be. The big squatters are not the persons who will have to suffer. They would probably be in a position to afford to pay something extra for an effective dip, but it is the people who are engaged in dairying and small sheep farmers whom the Treasurer is proposing to tax. There seems to be an idea that the only people concerned in stock-raising in this country are wealthy squatters. The day when that was so has long gone by. Those who will feel this tax are the small farmers and dairymen.
– I am astonished at the Treasurer’s action in proposing a duty on this item. It amounts on some phenyle preparations to a duty of over 50 per cent., as the invoice price in some cases is 3s. 6d. a gallon. Phenyle preparations are used not only for keeping stock clean and healthy, but also largely for sanitary purposes around dwellings. The duty on liquid disinfectants -would exclude such preparations as Calvert’s carbolic acid, of which large quantities are used for disinfecting drains.
– It is far too expensive for much of it to be used for that purpose.
– It is used largely both in the powder and liquid forms. In some places it is not used fo the extent that it might be - in this building, for instance. The proposal to put a duty on liquid sheep washes raises the question of the- great necessity throughout Australia for the proper dipping of sheep, in order to preserve our principal industry. These patent sheep washes, both liquid and powder, are used more by the smaller farmer than by any one else, because it is usual for the bis; stations to prepare their own sheep dips, using arsenic, soft soap and sulphur. The small farmer uses these patent preparations in a handy form.
– What does the honorable member call a small farmer?
– A man who runs anything less than 5,000 sheep.
– :Is the honorable member pleading for the poor farmer with 5,000 sheep? I wish all our farmers had 5,000 sheep each.
– I am pleading simply for common sense in the treatment of this item. The man who has less than 1,000 sheep uses these patent preparations.
– He generally dips them at the nearest squatter’s place.
– The honorable member is wrong. I have seen them in my district with their small dips, lifting the sheep in and out one at a time. So important is this process to the whole industry, that they will go to all that trouble. If we impose this duty Australia will be in the unique position of being the only country in the world that taxes preparations of this kind. Russia, one of the most conservative countries ‘ admits dips like Cooper’s free, because it is for the national good. They are admitted free in the Argentine. America, -which is often held up as one of the most protected countries in the world, admits Cooper’s sheep dip free. If the Treasurer had given the people of Australia time to consider this matter, he would have been as eager to take the duty off as he was to take it off wirenetting.
– I did not take the duty off wire-netting.
– The honorable member voted for duties of 15 and 10 per cent. I remember voting with him.
– Tell the. whole story, and do not manipulate what happened.
– This question is similar to that of wire-netting - it is a case of keeping out pests. The Treasurer, who is an able representative of one of the largest and most important rural constituencies, now actually proposes a duty on something which is used to the .advantage of every man who earns his living on the land. Phenyles are used as a wash for poultry, sheep, horses and dogs, and also as household disinfectants.
– We will climb down by a half if the honorable member will sit down.
– Then presumably the duty of as. per gallon was only proposed for amusement. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says “ We will climb down.” How many new honorary Minis ters have recently been added to the Cabinet? Other important articles included in the Treasurer’s proposal are insecticides and sheep branding preparations. We have already dealt with some forms of sheep branding preparations under other items. A duty of 2s. per gallon on these patent preparations amounts to over 20 per cent. At the same time, they are made from secret formulae, and therefore cannot be made or sold here. We could not possibly manufacture Cooper’s dip and sell it as such, or make the same article and sell it under another name. All sheep dips are not alike, but Cooper’s dip is unique. Its use has considerably increased the value of our great national asset. The local preparations can be bought for one-third less than can the imported. Surely, then, there is no necessity for a duty. I suggest that these articles should be allowed to come in free as before. I hope honorable members realize that if we impose this duty we shall be going far’ beyond what has been done in either Russia or America.
.-^ Springing a proposal of this kind on the Committee without notice is not calculated to assist our deliberations and, further, I see no justification for imposing the duty proposed by the Treasurer. The arguments this afternoon show that if there are any articles in the Tariff that should be made free they are the articles now under discussion. When we consider the value of some pf these disinfectants to the community, it is bordering on a criminal act to impose a duty amounting to 50 per cent, or over. The result of making a proposal of this kind without notice is that several hours have been occupied in its discussion.
. - At an earlier stage of the debate, I said that the Treasurer knew ‘ as much about stock as any man in Australia. At that time, however, I thought it was the honorable gentleman’s intention to make this article free, but shortly afterwards I discovered that he proposed to impose a duty ; and that, of course, very much altered my opinion of him. I may inform the Committee that in South Africa all such requisites are carried free over the Government railways : and I think that example might be very well followed here, instead of increasing the cost by imposing a duty. Some years ago I was induced to try one of the new dips, but three months afterwards I found the sheep as though they had never been treated at all ; and I had to go back to the well-tried article. If sheep are not thoroughly dipped the wool will be reduced to nearly half its value ; and that, of course, is a very serious matter. I hope the Committee will not vote the proposed duty.
– I cannot let some of the arguments on the other side go unchallenged. From one section of the Opposition we hear that no duty should be placed on these commodities because they cannot be made here - that there is a special virtue in particular brands.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Capricornia. Then we have it from the honorable member for Corangamite that squatters make their own dip; and, as that is a fact, it shows that there is no virtue in sheep dip which cannot be attained in Australia. We have been further told that the locally-made article is not equivalent to the imported article ; but I have before me the formula of both Quibell’s and Burnet’s sheep dip. In the imported article, the tar oil is only 30 per cent., as against 33 per cent. in the locally-made article ; carbolic acid is 15 per cent., as against 18 per cent. ; soda is 7 per cent., as against 8 per cent. ; water is 32 per cent., as against 23 per cent. ; and resin is 16 per cent., as against 18 per cent. respectively. In every case but water the percentage is higher ; and the local dip has been tested and found to be not so strong as to be injurious. The wider sale of the imported sheep dip is due, not to superior quality, but to more judicious advertising, by which people are easily influenced.
– I suggest to the Treasurer that he should postpone the consideration of this item until we have heard his understudy, the honorable member for Batman, express an opinion. We have not yet heard that honorable member on this particular item; and as the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports say that sheep dip can be made in Victoria–
– And the honorable member says that it cannot.
– I do not say anything of the sort - the honorable member ought not to put words into my mouth. Anything that promotes the brilliancy of wool ought to receive earnest attention from this Committee, seeing that the wool industry is the backbone of the Commonwealth. But for the wool industry, I do not know what the people of the cities would do for a living. Thank goodness, in Western Queensland the sheep are free from diseases which prevail elsewhere, and sheep wash has not been regarded as necessary. But I am told that, in order to promote brilliancy in the wool, it is intended to resort to dipping. This fact ought to be taken into consideration, and attention paid to this primary industry, as well as to the manufacturing industries in the cities.
– If the amendment before the Chair be defeated, I intend to move that the duty be1s.
– [ have already notified my intention to move an amendment. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ preparations,” paragraph a, the word “ free.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, negatived.
Item agreed to.
Item 284. Fly-papers, chemical and sticky, ad val., 15 per cent.
.- I think that these fly-papers should be admitted free. In Australia the fly pest is rapidly becoming a very dangerous one, and we shall have to find some means of combating it. The use of fly-papers is one method by which we can deal with the small flies in houses. Therefore, I move -
That the word’s “ and on and after 5th December, 1907, free,” be added.’
– I should like to know whether the Treasurer intends to accept the amendment? After the Committee have decided that sheep-washes shall be admitted free, surely he cannot persist in making flypapers dutiable at 15 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 285. Thio sulphates (Hydrosulphites), and Hydrosulphites containing zinc sulphite and formaldehyde, free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “hydrosulphites” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ hyposulphites.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 286 (Chemical compounds and simple drugs) agreed to.
Item 287. Bacteriological products and serum, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free.
– I should like to know whether this item will cover the microbe proposed to be introduced by Dr. Danysz, and whether the imports under this heading last year, which were valued at £3,268, were confined to that and other similar cultures?
Item agreed to.
Item 288 (Carbonate and bi-carbonate of soda) agreed to.
Item 289. Tartaric acid, cream of tartar, and citric acid, ad val. (General Tariff), . 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “ 5 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after5th December, 1907 (General Tariff), free,” be inserted.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 290 (Essential oils, non-spirituous) agreed to.
Item 291. Medicines -
Proprietary Medicines and other Medicinal Preparations and Compounds (not chemical) ; Medicinal Extracts ; Essences ; Juices ; Infusions ; Solutions; Emulsions; Confections; and Syrups; Pills: Pilules; Tabloids; Soloids; Ovoids; Tablets; Capsules; Troches; Cachets; Suppositories; Pessaries n.e.i. ; Plasters; Poultices; Salves; Cerates; Ointments; Liniments ; Lotions ; Pastes and the like ; Medicinal Waters and Oils n.e.i. ; and Medicines for Animals, ad val., 15 per cent.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “ Preparations,” line 4, paragraph (a), a semi-colon be inserted ; that the word “ and “ immediately following be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ medicinal,” and that the word “ Troches,” line 10, be left out.
.-I think that plasters should be placed upon the free list. Of course we all know that there are varieties of plasters. I hold in my hand a book, a copy of which has been forwarded to every honorable member. It shows how important the matter must be if the agents of Messrs. Johnston and Johnston, manufacturing chemists, will incur that expense.
– I will agree to the omission of the word.
– I move-
That the word “Plasters” be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
– I want to move that plasters be made free.
– So they will be.
-Under what item will plasters fall now that they have been removed from this item?
– I want to have no dubiety about this matter.
– I will see that the article is made free.
– Since the honorable gentleman has given me that binding promise I am satisfied.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 292. Opium, for use as medicine only, and not capable of being used for smoking purposes, per lb., 30s.
– I desire this item to be so amended as to read -
Opium, for medicinal purposes only, under departmental by-laws, per lb., 30s.
On the next item, I shall move a consequential amendment. I move -
That the words “ use as medicine only and not capable of being used for smoking purposes “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “medicinal purposes only, under departmental by-laws.”
– I desire to know whether the Treasurer has proposed this alteration with a view to meeting certain representations which have been made to him by the Friendly Societies Medical Institutes and Dispensaries’ Association of New South Wales?
-i propose to ask the Committee to so alter the next item as to make it read -
Opium, contained in any medicinal preparation when such preparation would not be liable to duty under another heading at a higher rate per lb., 30s.
– That does not touch the point which has been raised by the association I mentioned. On the 2 1 st August last, its secretary forwarded to me the following resolution concerning the supply of opium -
That this meeting of accredited representatives of 25,000 members of Friendly Societies, representing 100,000 souls in Sydney, Paddington, Red fern, Balmain, Newtown, Parramatta, Marrickville, North Sydney, Leichhardt, and Petersham, whilst congratulating the Federal Government in its attempt to control the importation and sale of pernicious drugs, &c, desires to enter its emphatic protest against the Customs authorities’ regulation restricting the supply of opium for medicinal purposes, when prescribed by legally-qualified medical practitioners, as in its various forms the drug is frequently administered both internally and externally in relieving the intense sufferings of the membership.
– The regulation has been altered to meet that, I think.
– I wish to ascertain whether the position has been met?
– There is no doubt about it. The alteration was for that purpose to a very large extent.
– The honorable gentleman is referring to his amendment?
– Do I understand that the honorable gentleman is de sirous of meeting the representations of this association both by legislation proposed and by regulation?
– The proposal I am making will have that effect.
– I desire to raise an additional point. I do not know whether it has been altered, but at one time there was a regulation which allowed only a limited quantity of opium to be sold to any chemist, and all the chemists of the country were put on the same footing; they must all purchase the same quantity.
– That would be art interference with State rights. The Commonwealth could not possibly do that.
– I am told that, nevertheless, it is a fact.
– What control have we over the chemists ? ‘
– My own chemist informed me that in a fortnight he used as much opium for horses and stock alone as the Department allowed him for the year.
– Does the honorable member say that the Department of Trade and Customs control the amount of opium which is to be dispensed by any chemist?
– I assure the honorable member that it was done, and I believe is still done.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance, and will assist him to remedy the matter.
– I wish to know whether the regulation has been altered in any way ?
– Does the honorable member’s chemist use opium only for a fortnight in the year?
– He is stuck up when he has used his supply. He cannot get any more in the year.
– I have been buying opium in fair quantities, and I have not been stopped.
– My chemist told me that sometimes a farrier, who is making a tour of the district, will come along and get almost as much at one time as he is allowed to get for the whole year.
– That may be the case in New South Wales, but it is not so in Victoria.
– I will read to honorable members the notice which has been sent out by the Assistant Comptroller-General to the inspectors. It reads as follows : -
Inform all portsre opium supplied by pharmacists, no restriction is imposed on the supply of the drug for legitimate uses, but regular inspection’ of importers’ books must be continued, and explanation asked of any large increase in the quantity issued to retailers.
That is the instruction which is now being acted upon.
– That is satisfactory, I think.
.- I am very sorry that I did not hear the Minister’s explanation, as I was making an inquiry of the Comptroller-General regarding the statement of the honorable member for Parramatta. I understood the latter to say that he had been assured by a chemist that the Commonwealth Government had passed a regulation which restricted the quantity of opium to be sold by any chemist in a particular time.I have been assured by the ComptrollerGeneral that it has not been done. I question the validity of such a regulation.
– I have letters to show; that it has been done.
– It is a question of the importation of opium.
– It is a question about the sale of opium, in order to restrict its use by Chinese.
– The Department has the power to restrict the importation of opium, but no power to restrict the sale of it. That is a matter which rests with the States
– The point which the Friendly Societies’ Medical Institutes and Dispensaries of New South Wales desire to be dealt with has not yet been touched. Paragraph 4 of the departmental regulations referring to opium reads as follows: -
Before granting any licence to import opium, the collector must be satisfied bystatutory declaration that the applicant for such licence is a legally-qualified medical practitioner or a person lawfully carrying on business as a wholesale or manufacturing chemist or druggist or pharmaceutical chemist.
Friendly Societies’ Medical Institutes and Dispensaries do not come under that definition, and consequently they are prohibited from importing opium. What they desire is stated in a letter covering the resolution which was read by the honorable member for Calare. The letter reads as follows -
In accordance with a resolution passed at a meeting of the Executive of the above Association, held last night, it becomes my duty to sub mit the following copy of two resolutions, and to respectfully ask if you will kindly use your best endeavours to secure the exemption of our institutions from the regulation regarding the simply of opium formedicinal purposes, and to strenuously oppose the imposition of the increased duties on drugs, medicinal preparations and medicine bottles when the new Tariff proposals are submitted to the House.
The association I mentioned point out that their medical institutes and dispensaries, simply because they are not carrying on the business of an ordinary chemist, are prohibited by the regulation from importing opium, and they desire that they also may be granted a licence for the purpose.
– Does not the regulation refer to wholesale chemists?
– It refers to wholesale or manufacturing chemists.
– It refers to a wholesale or manufacturing chemist or druggist or pharmaceutical chemist.
– At any rate, under the regulation Friendly Societies’ Medical Institutes or Dispensaries, although conducted by duly qualified chemists, are not allowed to import opium for medicinal purposes.
– They should be allowed.
– Certainly. I ask the Treasurer if he will see that the regulation is so altered as to extend to medical institutes and dispensaries which are conducted by duly qualified chemists the same privilege which is now enjoyed by other chemists.. I do not think he can fairly object to the request. In Sydney and suburbs alone the regulation affects 25,000 poor persons connected with friendly societies.
– The honorable member means that that should be provided for by departmental regulation?
– Yes; I wish to ask the Treasurer to introduce a departmental by-law so as not to exclude the chemists in the Friendly Societies’ Institutes from being able to import opium in the same manner as chemists carrying on business outside.
– My only reason for hesitation about this matter was that I felt that the opium traffic ought to be restricted to the fullest extent. When the matter was before me as Minister of Trade and Customs I was very particular in endeavouring to restrict the traffic in every way. I hold to the terms of the proclamation that I issued at that time. If what is asked for can be done without running any risk of opening the door to the increased consumption of opium for other than medicinal purposes, I will advise that it shall be done. That is all that I can say. I hesitate to do anything suddenly which may open the door wider, because opium smoking is undoubtedly an awful curse, and I have always done my best to stop it.
.- The position in regard to Friendly Societies’ Institutes has hardly been properly stated by the honorable member for Cook. The Department of Trade and Customs made certain regulations as to the importation of opium. They considered that in order to carry out their regulations effectively they ought to be able to trace the opium to the place where it was. consumed. They endeavour to do that in every case.
– Quite right, too.
– I do not say whether it was right or wrong, but it did not work well. Where the Customs found that a certain amount of opium, which they considered excessive, was going in a certain direction - say to a country chemist - they drew the attention of the wholesale chemists to the fact and said, “ If this goes on we will not allow you to import.” The Department put the screw on the wholesale men, who in turn put the screw on the retailers. The effect was that they apportioned out what they thought was a fair consumption, prescribing how muchJohn Brown, a country chemist, or John Robinson, a town chemist, ought to sell in a certain time. In other words, they endeavoured to determine what was a legitimate medicinal use of opium in any particular place. Now, the dispensary in Parramatta serves a very large district, and the restriction imposed by the Department of Trade and Customs, or by the wholesale importers under pressure from the Department, hadthis effect. The allowance made to the Parramatta Dispensary was so small that in about a fortnight they had used in doctors’ prescriptions the amount of opium they were allowed to use for a whole quarter.
– Does the honorable member know what quantity they were allowed ?
– They were allowed a certain amount for a quarter, which they used in about a fortnight. The consequence was that the dispensary could not properly dispense the doctors’ prescriptions. I drew the attention of the Minis ter to this matter about six months ago, and he directed that the regulations should be altered so as to allow greater latitude and to insure that the legitimate use of opium would not be hampered. I believe that something has been done in that direction. I inquired the other day of Mr. Button, the secretary of the dispensary, and he told me that they were now allowed the opium they wanted. I presume, therefore, that the Minister of Trade and Customs has altered the regulation. I am as keen as the Treasurer, or any one else can be, to stop the use of opium absolutely for any but medicinal purposes. But it is such an alleviative of pain that the legitimate use of it should not be hampered in any way when prescribed by doctors.
.- I think that the Treasurer is perfectly right in safeguarding, so far as he can, against the illegitimate use of. opium. I also recognise that no arbitrary regulation can be framed to fit all cases of chemists selling opium? What I think should be done is, to allow a certain amount of discretion to the responsible officers of the Department: to deal with cases on their merits. For instance, where it is known that there is a large Chinese settlement, or that there is an unusually large amount of opium going into a certain district, there would be a legitimate case for interference if there was reason to believe that the limits of ordinary medicinal uses were being exceeded. But, in addition to the demands of dispensaries and friendly societies and institutes, I point out that abnormally large quantities of opium are used by chemists who happen to have large veterinary customers. I happen to have one in my own electorate who is in that position, and who uses as much opium in a week as a chemist in another part of the country would use in a year.
– Provision has already been made to meet cases like that.
– The Minister is quite right in making regulations to meet such cases, and each case should be investigated on its merits. So long as proper safeguards are taken, I have no particular objection to offer to what is proposed, though I think that the duty on opium for medicinal purposes is too high.
– I do not think that the remarks of the honorable member for Laanecoorie should be allowed to pass without comment. Let me quote from information forwarded to me. some time ago in connexion with the sale of opium by chemists -
The Acting Collector of Customs of New South Wales has issued the following memorandum to the licensed importers of opium : - “ In future, any licensed importer of opium or extract of opium shall be held responsible for the supply of any retail pharmacist of any of the drugs mentioned in excess of the following quantities per annum : - Gum opium, 4 ozs. ; solid extract of opium, 2 ozs. ; liquid extract of opium, 5 ozs.; tincture opium, 2 quarts. In addition] besides keeping books, such licensee shall supply the Department with a monthly -statement, showing the quantity of opium and its .preparations imported and manufactured, with a list of the names and addresses of persons to whom such preparations, &c, were sold and the quantities supplied.”
A great many chemists sell much larger quantities of opium per week than is mentioned in that memorandum. Naturally, the issue of it caused a considerable amount of consternation. The honorable member for Nepean and the right honorable member for East Sydney, brought the matter up in Parliament. Thereupon, the following memorandum was issued by the Minister of Trade and Customs -
There is no restriction to the bond fide use of opium preparations for medicinal purposes. It was, however, found that special vigilance is imperatively necessary, in order that the supplies should not be diverted to improper purposes. Inquiry was made as to the fair average Quantities ordinarily required each year by chemists, and the Department was advised that such average quantities were : - Gum opium, ^ lb. ; solid extract, 2 ozs. ; liquid extract, 5 ozs. ; tincture of opium, 2 quarts. The collectors were advised” so that the above should afford a guide to trade requirements, and aid them in supervising -the .distribution. That this was absolutely necessary may be realized from the fact that in one case we found a country chemist being supplied with over 2 lb. in weight of extract of opium each fortnight. In regard to three chemists, whose supplies prior to July, 1906, did not reach 1 lb. each year, we found they were supplied bv licensed importers as follows for nine months ending 31st March last : - No. 1, 36^ lbs., about 1 lb. per week; No. 2, 47^ lbs., about i£ lbs. ner week; No. 3, 22 lbs., about f lb. per week. It is obvious these quantities were not required for legitimate purposes, and the action recently taken is to insist upon those persons who are licensed to import opium exercising every reasonable precaution, so that the law may be observed. The Minister has already decided that if he finds reasonable care is not exercised bv any persons licensed to import opium” for medicinal purposes, he will not hesitate to cancel the licence. It will be quite impossible to give effect to the desire to suppress the evil of opium smoking if the irregularities drawn attention to were permitted.
This was the effect of the protest made by the honorable member for Nepean and the right honorable member for East Svdney.
As regards the question whether the duty is too high, I point out that it operates as almost a prohibitive impost on a number of proprietary lines, containing only an infinitesimal quantity of opium. The duty is therefore hardly fair to the ordinary consumers of opium medicinally. It certainly is not right to tax the users of a proprie.tary article to the full extent of the amount of opium contained in the preparation. The duty will press hardly upon friendly societies.
– The Treasurer has agreed to an amendment to meet their case.
– The Government tack and change about so often that it is difficult to keep pace with their proposals.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 293. Medicinal preparations containing opium, per lb., 30s.
Amendment (by Mr. Mauger) agreed to -
That the following words be added - “and on and after 5th December. 1907, opium contained in any medicinal preparation, when such preparation would not be liable to higher duty under any other heading, per lb., 30s.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 294. Perfumery ; including Perfumed Ammonia; Camphor (in tablets); Toilet Preparations not containing spirit (perfumed or not) : Cachous ; Skin Foods ; refined Lanoline ; refined Glycerine and Vaseline : and Perfumed Petroleum Jelly, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom^. 2^ per cent.
– I wish to point out that vaseline and camphor form the basis of a number of preparations, and it seems to me that the rates of duty which it is proposed to impose on them are altogether too high. On this subject, the Chamber of Commerce, Svdney, has furnished the following information -
Vaseline was subject to 20 per cent., and now proposed to be 35 per cent. Is largely used in making ointments. The duty will work out, including the duty on the bottles, at 19s. 3d. ner gross of 2 oz. bottles or equal to 120 per cent, on the cost. Vaseline is not producible here, and should not carTy more than 10 per cent.
Camphor, 1 oz. blocks Japanese, old duty 20 per cent., and proposed 35 per cent. It is not producible here, and 10 per cent, should be a fair thing.
– Who says that vaseline is not made here?
– No doubt, anything can be made here; but what concerns us is whether vaseline is now made here in sufficiently large quantities to meet the demand, for it.
– It is.
– The Sydney Chamber of Commerce, whose members are intimately connected with business operations, say that it is not. I think that both camphor and vaseline should be left out of the item, and I move -
That the words “ camphor (in tablets) “ be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Item further amended to read as follow -
Perfumery ; including Perfumed Ammonia : Toilet Preparations (perfumed or not), nonspirituous and spirituous, when the duty payable under item 8 is less than that payable under this item; Skin Foods; refined Lanoline; refined Glycerine; and Petroleum Jelly.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That after the words “35 per cent.,” the words “and on and after5th December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff). 30 per cent.,” be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) proposed -
That after the words “25 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 5th December, 1907, ad val. (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.,” be inserted.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to this amendment. Twenty per cent. is the old rate. The Treasurer, in regard to other items, has been very careful to insist upon’ the fact that he has followed the recommendations of the A section of the Tariff Commission, and I therefore point out that it was the unanimous recommendation of both sections that the old duty should be retained in this case. Moreover, the Minister has consented to a reduction of the general rate from 35 to 30 per cent. ; and as he originally proposed a preferential difference of 10 per cent. in favour of Great Britain, he should, to be consistent, agree to this amendment in order that that preference may remain. He has offered no explanation of his reasons for putting aside the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 295. Unrefined Glycerine and Unrefined Lanoline, free.
– I should like to know what the Treasurer proposes to do in regard to camphor and vaseline, which were omitted from the previous item. I think they should be inserted in this item, and am prepared to move accordingly.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Hunter, I would suggest that the words “ plasters: adhesive and all unmedicated “ should also be added to this item.
– I propose to add to this item the words . “ Camphor in tablets “–
– Why not all camphor ; it is not produced here.
– Very well. I move -
That after the word “ Lanoline,” the words Camphor, Vaseline (not being Petroleum Jelly), and Plasters, adhesive and all unmedicated,” be inserted.
.- The idea was that plasters should be free.
– The words used are recommended by the Chemists and Druggists’ Association.
– I simply wished to obtain an expert assurance on that point. Then, again, is not “ petroleum jelly,” merely a synonym for vaseline?
– No. By adding the words “ not being petroleum jelly,” we shall, for the purposes of the Department, distinguish between the two.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 296. Essential Oils and Fat, containing Extract of Flowers used in making Perfumes, ad val., 20 per cent.
– I have received a report in reference to this item, stating that -
This item was recommended by the Tariff Commission, provided that certain other recommendations were carried out, namely, an additional duty on perfumed spirit.
That recommendation has not been adopted, and as it has been found that this duty will fall heavily on the manufacturers of toilet soaps, I move -
That the words “ and on and after 5th December, 1907, free,” be added.
.- I wish to point out that the Treasurer is in error in saying that this duty was recommended by the Tariff Commission. It was only recommended conditionally.
– I said so, and that the condition had not been complied with.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 297. Sulphuric Ether and other ethers n.e.i., non-spirituous or containing not more than 5 per cent. of proof spirit, free.
– This item has been introduced inadvertently. It is already provided for in item 9, Division 1 of the Tariff, and I propose to delete it.
Item 298 (Soda Crystals) agreed to.
– What about the Excise on saccharine and vinegar?
– That will not be forgotten.
– I do not intend if I can help it that it shall be forgotten.
Division X. - Wood, Wicker, and Cane.
– I move -
That items 299 to 302 inclusive be postponed until after the consideration of item 303.
– Why not deal with item 301, Chairs, at once?
– Because honorable members have asked me to deal with the timber duties before we deal with furniture.
.- We have delayed the consideration of item 301 - Chairs - for the last three or four months, whilst the goods have been kept in bond, and now when we reach the item in the ordinary course the Minister asks that its consideration be postponed.
– Only for a few hours.
– Strong opposition was expressed months ago to the imposition of a duty of 7s. 6d. each on chairs, and a few hours are of importance to a man who has a thousand chairs in bond and wishes to get them out in time for the Christmas trade. The item is not much affected by. the duties on timber, and we should deal with it before we deal with those duties. If the Treasurer would agree to place chairs, lounges and settees in one item it could be dealt with in five minutes.
– I will not agree to do that at present. I am going to conduct the business in my own way or not at all.
– Of course the Minister must please himself in the matter, but I will oppose the postponement of these items. As I am known to be in the business, I have received letters on this subject from every part of Australia, which show the hardship which people in the trade have had to put up with during the last three months.
– Then I ask the honorable member to agree to postpone the item for three hours.
– I do not think that the Minister will get the timber duties through in three hours.
– If the proposal were unreasonable I should not make it, but we should have the whole of these matters dealt with to-night.
– I intend to oppose the motion.
– I will do what I have said, or I shall not go on with the Tariff at all. Honorable members propose to take the business out of the hands of the Government.
.- I hope that item 301 will not be postponed. I brought it under the notice of honorable members months and months ago. I showed that the increase of duty involved an increase in the amount payable on one shipment to Fremantle from ^76 to £1,000 odd. As a result, the chairs included in that shipment are still in bond.
– The honorable member is delaying the consideration of the item by talking.
– The Treasurer is the cause of the talking, by proposing to postpone the consideration of the item. After what the importers of chairs have had to put up with the motion to postpone the consideration of the item is a disgraceful proposition. They had a right to expect that, at least, when we came to the item in the ordinary way we - would deal with it, and now the Treasurer asks us to postpone it. I hope that the Committee will not permit the postponment of the item.
– I have been asked by a dozen or more members this afternoon to postpone these items until after the consideration of the timber duties.
– Not item 301.
– Yes, the whole of the furniture items.
– There are more than twelve members in the Committee.
– The honorable member talks nonsense. I have agreed to do what I was requested to do, and I will do it or will not go on with the Tariff. If the Committee is to take the control of business out of the hands of the Government we should know it at once. If I were making an unreasonable request I should not object to the opposition to it, but when I was asked to take the timber duties before furniture I considered the request a reasonable one. I hope that we shall be able to deal with all these duties to-night.
– Hear, hear. Pass the lot to-night.
– I am going to fight very hard to do so. I hope we shall be able to pass the timber duties, the furniture duties, and, perhaps, some other duties to-night. I tell honorable members that if they will stand by me we shall do so. I am sorry the honorable member for Bass has taken up an attitude of opposition to the proposal, as I should “not do anything to which he could take excep tion if I could help it. I have given my promise at the request of a large number of members to postpone these items until after the consideration of the timber duties, and I hope that honorable members will now go on with the business.
– - I know nothing of any promises made by the honorable gentleman, but I should like to say that it is a great shame to postpone the consideration of item 301 for one moment longer than is necessary.
– It will be dealt with to-night.
– Who says it will ?
– I do.
– That settles it; I suppose. I point out that the honorable gentleman could deal with it . now without any debate whatever. There is bound to be considerable debate on the duties proposed in connexion with general furniture, and a very long debate on the timber duties is inevitable. This item of chairs might be taken at once, and dealt with almost without debate. It is one which we singled out weeks ago as being of an urgent character. The importers of chairs have had to keep them in bond. They have been out of their money during all this _ time, and their business has been injured. In the circumstances, is it fair that now, when we have reached the item in the ordinary way, it should be postponed until some other items are dealt with? I think the Minister’s proposal is a most unreasonable one.
– I think it is most unreasonable that some members of the Opposition should ask me to do what I have proposed and then turn on me.
– What member of the Opposition asked the Minister? ‘
– One of the leading members of the Opposition.
– To postpone chairs ?
– To postpone the whole division relating to furniture.
– General furniture, .perhaps, but not chairs.
– Are not chairsfurniture ?
– Yes; but in this Tariff they are treated differently from general furniture, arid an impost that is neither more nor less than imfamous is placed upon them. If they were treated as ordinary furniture with a duty of 30 or 40 per cent., there would be no trouble.
– The honorable member must not enter, into details.
– I am offering reasons why we should deal with the item “Chairs “ at the earliest possible moment.
– The honorable member must see that if he goes into details with respect to the duties on general furniture, his remarks may lead to a general discussion.
– Assuming that some honorable members did ask. the Treasurer that the items dealing with furniture should be postponed, I say that item’ 301 is treated differently from the other items of furniture. In this Tariff, chairs are treated separately, and dealt with in a way, the reason for which no one, with the exception, perhaps, of the Treasurer, is able to understand. I am certain that the Treasurer intends to reduce the proposed duties on his own motion, and why can he not do it now. I feel bound to vote with the honorable member for Bass if he pushes his objection to the postponement of these items to a division.
.- I suggest to the Treasurer that he should postpone only item 299. The honorable gentleman’s object is to prevent a long discussion on furniture before we have dealt with the duties on timber, and I suggest that he should content himself with moving the postponement of item 299.
– I cannot agree to that.
– Then I am prepared to move an amendment upon the motion which would prevent the postponement of items 300, 301, and 302.
– That would be a vote of want of confidence, and I shall not stand that sort of thing.
– The honorable gentleman can avoid it if he will agree to a reasonable and fair deal. If the Treasurer will agree to that, we will undertake to put the items referred to through before dinner.
– Let us have a debate of two or three hours, and waste more time.
.- I hope that the honorable member for Corangamite will not be forced to press the amendment he has suggested, because it would put the
Minister in a rather’ unfortunate position. I do not think that a vote taken on such an amendment would be a true indication of the wish of the Committee. I appeal to the Minister in a friendly way to give us an opportunity of determining the question of whether 7 s. 6d. each shall be charged as an alternative to the duty on chairs. We could probably deal with the matter within ten minutes. I make the appeal, because as far back as the 30th August last I “made a strong request on remonstrances against the duties put before me that item 301 should be taken at once, and at the time Ministers were inclined to accept that suggestion. It was subsequently pointed out that it would perhaps be better to wait until the item came on in the ordinary course. Now we have reached ;t, and this very day I have received communications from Adelaide with respect to the item. It is pointed out that importers cannot take their chairs out of bond, and are actually threatened with law suits for the non-fulfilment of orders-.
– I will withdraw the motion and go 011 with “Furniture.”
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I am sorry that there has been a little misunderstanding. I mentioned to several honorable members on this side that there was a probability of the Minister proposing to postpone the furniture items until after the timber duties, because the furniture duties would hinge largely on what was done in the case of timber. There seems, however, to have been a slight misapprehension, as some of those to whom I spoke thought that it was proposed to postpone only the item “Furniture.” I did not understand it so, although other honorable members did.
Item 299. Furniture (except of Metal, Wicker, Bamboo, and Cane), n.e.i., in parts or finished; including Billiard and Bagatelle Tables and Boards and Accessories : Trays ; Crumb Trays and Brushes; Mattresses; Bolsters-; Pillows; Window Shade or Blind Rollers: Rollers with Blinds; Screens; Portieres; Dress Stands and Show Figures for draping or other purposes; Writing Desks and Cabinets; Stationery Cabinets ; Type Cabinets and Cases ; Mirrors framed or not, n.e.i. ; Blinds not being textile ; Panels for incorporating into furniture ; Ice Chests or Refrigerators; Housemaids’ Boxes; Meat and other Household Safes; Bath Cabinets; Dental and Surgical ‘Cabinets ; Invalid Furniture and Chairs on wheels ; Aseptic Hospital Furniture, including Trollies, Stretchers, and the like, ad val. (General Tariff), 40 per cent. : (United Kingdom), 30 per cent.
– I am sorry that I caused any disturbance, because I have always supported the Government as far as possible. I desire to add after the word “Furniture” the words “ Chairs, Lounges and Settees,” and to strike out the words “ except of Metal, Wicker, Bamboo, and Cane.” Then, lower down, I wish to strike out the words “and Chairs on wheels.” The whole item would then deal with all furniture, which would come in at the one rate.
– I have a proposition to make which will meet what the honorable member desires. I move -
That the words “and on and alter 5th December, 1907, Furniture n.e.i., -including any article of wood, or partly of wood, wholly or partly made up or finished, and used in any building or premises, including hospitals ; also Show Figures of all kinds, ad val.” be added.
Those words embrace all that was previously contained in the item in a much more comprehensive and less cumbersome form. They have been prepared by the Department. As to the rates of duty, I intend to propose 40 per cent, in the General Tariff and 30 per cent, against the United Kingdom. I- shall afterwards move to bring the rates of duty on the next two items into accord with whatever rates are agreed to on this item.
– I am not particular about the wording of the item, so long as lounges, chairs, and settees come in at the same rate as other furniture. I will not proceed with my amendments.
.- I thoroughly approve of the Treasurer’s generalization, embracing, as it does,- in a comprehensive manner every possible description of furniture. It is a very convenient and logical description of furniture, and is better than the minute specification of a large number of articles in detail. I think a duty of 30 per cent, all round is quite sufficient. Although the Treasurer proposes a generalized description in this item, I am disposed to think that lounges, settees, and chairs should be separately dealt with, so that the Committee may have an opportunity of giving a straight-out vote in those cases. The reason why the specific duties’ on those articles, apparently high on the* face of them, were proposed, was because the Tariff Commission were informed that most of the articles of this description came from cheap labour countries, such as China, where they were turned out at such a dirt-cheap rate that an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent, would be practically useless and inoperative.
– How many bent-wood chairs are made in China?
– I do not intend to argue the question, because I know that the feeling of the Committee is against the proposed high specific duties, but I wish to cite the evidence upon which it was proposed. If the Committee do not think that those fixed duties are reasonable, I ask them to impose such other fixed duties as they may consider operative or effective. Evidence was given in Melbourne by furniture manufacturers. One witness was Mr. George Dellit, representing John Del lit and Sons, wickerware furniture manufacturers, North Melbourne. In reference to the wicker and bamboo- furniture trade, he said -
We cannot compete against Japanese and Chinese, whose labour only costs 4d. per day. For example : - r chair in China, 1 day’s work, 4d. 1 chair in Melbourne, 1 day’s work,’ 6s. The only way we can settle same is to fix a fixed duty on each chair and lounge, as Chinese chairs are sold in Melbourne, four days’ work in each, ros. to 12s. each.
In another part of his evidence he stated -
This part of our trade is crippled through the importation of goods from China, India, and Japan, including the Straits Settlement, where wages range from 5d. to gd. per day. Some of the lounges and chairs coming from these countries would take any man three days to make, and 25 per cent, (ad valorem), say, on a lounge with three days’ work on it, invoiced at 5s. in Canton, scarcely alters the price of it here, as we have seen them sold at 12s. 6d. to 15s., including all costs. ‘We, therefore, ask that a duty of ros. be n laced on each lounge or settee, and 7s. 6d. on each chair.
– It should have been specified as bamboo or wicker.
– I do not know whether it is confined to bamboo or wicker ; but that is the evidence on ‘ which we decided to recommend the fixed duty ; and, without comment, I leave the matter entirely with the Committee.
.- Personally, I think 5 per cent, more or less on furniture used by private individuals is not a very vital matter. But the honorable and! learned member for Bendigo ought to have read a little more of the evidence, in order to have shown the other side of the case.
– The honorable member for Bendigo has not informed us what the imports are.
– All we have had is the testimony of one gentleman interested in the manufacture of these goods. I rise, more particularly to urge that there ought to be a differentiation in favour of hospitals and kindred institutions.
– Why? Such institutions are maintained with public money.
– Exactly ; they are maintained by private and public subscription ; and we shall be merely taking money out of one pocket and putting it into the other, if we impose a duty on their requisites. We ought not to have an impost which will make it more difficult to maintain those institutions. We know the difficulty there is, especially in the remoter parts of the Commonwealth, in carrying on hospitals.
– Let us pass this item, and insert a special item in favour of hospitals.
– If the Treasurer will accept that suggestion, I have no more to say.
– Chinese goods would be used.
– I do not believe any hospital committee would use Chinese goods if, by payment of a little more, they could purchase Australian goods.
– My experience is that public institutions and public bodies use imported goods.
– Possibly ; such institutions are conducted by people who wish to make the funds go as far as possible; and for that we can see some justification. I think that public and private hospitals are entitled to some consideration.
– No differentiation is made with regard to other articles which are used in such hospitals.
– I think that in the case of surgical appliances, some differentiation is made.
– But there is no differentiation in regard to bedding, linen, and so forth.
– Bedding and linen are not so large an item as is furniture. I hope the Treasurer will accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Corio, and place furniture for hospitals under a different heading. Not all hospitals are subsidized from the public Treasury, and great difficulty is experienced in conducting them on the public subscriptions which are raised by the utmost efforts of the committees of management.
– Is not that a reason why they should buy locally-made goods?
– Committees of management go where they can buy the cheapest goods, and. do the most with the money. If I give£1 to a hospital, I want it to be spent in such a way as to give the utmost benefit to the patients.
– I should like my £1 to be spent in Australia.
– The unfortunate patients ought to receive 20s. in value for every £1 given by the subscribers. I hope the Committee will see their way to remove hospital furniture from this item, and, at any rate, make it subject to a lower duty.
.- I had intended’ raising the very point suggested by the honorable member for Coolgardie, and but for the prior amendment by the Treasurer I should have moved the insertion of a new item, as follows - 299A. Aseptic Hospital Furniture, including
Operating Tables, Trollies, Stretchers, and the like, free.
– We cannot distinguish in that way.
– I think we can. These are goods of special manufacture. When it is clearly shown that the goods are for a public institution, conducted on charitable lines, every facility should be given for obtaining them at the lowest possible cost. The funds of charitable institutions will suffer severely if subscribers know that their money will be used largely for the purpose of putting increased profits into the pockets of local manufacturers.
– What a question to raise ! Does the honorable member really believe what he is saying?
– Everybody knows what an invalid’s chair is, and that special furniture is required for use in hospitals.
– An invalid’s chair might be used by a millionaire outside.
– Of that we shall have to take the chance. Where there is one millionaire there are a million or more destitute or impecunious people. Some hospital furniture is specifically mentioned as subject to duty, and I think we can just as easily specify furniture of the kind I refer to as free of duty.
– Could the goods be traced and differentiated?
– I think so. However, the Treasurer’s proposal must first be dealt with.
– I do not think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Coolgardie is practicable. Personally, I do not know of any hospital the committee of management of which directly imports the furniture required.
– They would directly import if they could get the goods 50 per cent, cheaper.
– I do not think that any arrangement of the kind suggested would cause any committee of management to resort to direct importation; the quantity of furniture required at any one time is never sufficiently large to’ make such a plan payable. Just imagine, in the case of a country hospital, struggling- for existence, the committee proceeding to directly import one or two lounges ! If a hospital committee went to a local dealer, would the duty be refunded on the particular article sold? The common experience is that committees of management, when purchasing furniture, do not ask. whether the goods are made by Chinese or black labour, but simply purchase what they require. As a matter of fact, most of the furniture used in hospitals is locally made, because it is then possible to get articles made to order. I should be very glad, indeed, to do anything to assist the hospitals ; but I fail altogether to see how any assistance can be rendered in the way suggested by the honorable member for Coolgardie. In my opinion, it is a mistake to have the word “ hospital “ mentioned, because it may only tend to lead subscribers and others to believe that some relief is tq be given when no relief is possible.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Coolgardie has made out a case. I should be prepared to support a general reduction of the duty ; but I cannot see how it would be possible to provide special exemptions in the case of furniture required by hospitals.
– The Tariff Commission made a similar recommendation in various other items.
– I do not know of any hospital which has refurnished in any general or extensive way, single articles of furniture, such as wheel chairs, being replaced as they wear out. Of course, if a new hospital were built in Melbourne, there might be extensive furnishing, and such a concession might prove of substantial benefit; but I do not see that the suggestion of the honorable member for Coolgardie can be carried out. A reduction in the duty, however, would benefit every one concerned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
.- I do not think that the Committee need concern itself very much about the question which has been raised by the honorable member for Coolgardie. My own experience in connexion with hospitals is that those institutions are never called upon to pay anything like the retail price for the furniture which they require. The liberality of our merchants prevents that. In order to overcome the difficulty, I would suggest that a new line should be added to this item to read, “ Chairs, the product of coloured labour, each 7s. 6d.”
– We have not reached the item of chairs yet.
– All other chairs would then be included in the item that we are discussing.
– A difficulty might be experienced in tracing the source of their manufacture.
– Their country of origin would have to be declared. But, in any case, we import a comparatively small quantity of furniture from the East. In conclusion, I am in favour of the new proposal of the Treasurer in regard to the classification, and I hope that the Committee will adopt it.
– I think that the ‘ Treasurer will Le acting very wisely if he agrees to hospital furniture being placed upon the free list. We all know that our public hospitals are intended primarily to assist the suffering and the needy, and that they are almost entirely supported by voluntary subscriptions.
– How can we distinguish between furniture which is intended to be used in hospitals and furniture which is tobe used elsewhere?
– I shall presently show the honorable member the difference between ordinary furniture and hospital furniture. These institutions are established primarily for the purpose of assisting the suffering and the needy, and it would beunwise on our part to add to the cost of their maintenance. The honorable member for Robertson, I am sorry to say, did not appear to know very much about this subject, because he stated that all the requirements of hospitals in the matter of furniture would be met by the occasional mending of a wheel chair, or something of that sort. In his own electorate there has recently been erected a cottage hospital which has been equipped in modern fashion. The furniture which it contains is of a special class, and has been designed for a special purpose. It is what is known as aseptic furniture. It hms recently been discovered that many of our surgical diseases are aggravated by the presence of germs in the atmosphere, and it is with a. view to combating these germs that furniture of this special type has been introduced. It is usually made of iron enamelled and glass. Every up-to-date hospital erected since this new theory was adopted has been furnished in this style. Nevertheless, the demand for this class of furniture is exceedingly small, and consequently it does not pay to manufacture it locally. The greater portion of it is imported, and will continue to be imported for many years. Let me instance the ordinary table which is used by surgeons in operating theatres. In some respects it is a very simple contrivance, whilst in others it is a very intricate one. Many of these tables are patented, so that it is impossible to manufacture them in Australia.
– The merchants import them.
– But if the merchants charge the hospitals only the wholesale price why should they be specially taxed for their philanthropy ? There is too much of that sort of thing in connexion with our public institutions. I am perfectly satisfied that the Treasurer will consent to theadmission of hospital furniture free. I claim that it may fairly be included in the same category as surgical appliances. We need not be afraid that Chinamen will manufacture it, because it is altogether beyond their capacity to do so. It requires to be made by specialists. I would also point out that this furniture is extremely expensive. Only the other day a new hospital was erected in my own electorate, and the cost of equipping it was so heavy that a special call had to be made upon the inhabitants of the district. They responded by organizing two race meetings, the profits of which were about £400, and with this money the operating theatre was furnished.. There is practically no country in the world where hospital furniture is dutiable. I again urge upon the Committee that it should be placed upon the free list, so that the cost of maintaining our hospitals, which are almost entirely dependent upon public subscriptions, shall not be increased.
– The honorable member for Hunter has given us a long dissertation upon hospital furniture. As he was good enough to say that I understood very little about the subject, may I point out that he is evidently unfamiliar with the item that we are discussing, which reads -
Furniture (except of metal, wicker, bamboo, and cane).
Now, the whole of his speech was devoted to hospital furniture, which technically does not embrace wood or wicker ware, but all those articles used in equipping hospitals which are made of metalware. It will thus be seen that the honorable member has still something to learn in reference to this matter. I take it that the Treasurer will consent to a reduction of the duty upon this item, so that it will affect all persons concerned’ and not a particular section of the community.
.- I find that last year £’212,526 worth of furniture was imported into the Comonwealth.
– That was inclusive of chairs?
– Of that amount chairs to the value of £161,000 were imported. Had those chairs been made in the Commonwealth their manufacture would have provided ‘ employment for 400 men at good wages. In connexion with this industry the man in charge of the turning machine is paid £2 18s. ; the frenchpolisher gets £2 15s., and the persons driving the engines receive £2 17s. and £2 15s.
– How do these rates compare with the rates prevailing in the United States, from which a number of these chairs come?
– A number of the chairs are imported from that country and dumped here at less than the sale price there. About 120 chairs can be sent from the Old. Country to Australia at a cost of about 17s. 6d., because they can be packed in a small compass.
– The chairs are sent out in parts and put together here.
– I repeat that 120 chairs can be landed here from the Old Country at a cost of about 17s. 6d.
– Not complete chairs, but parts of chairs.
– I propose to quote the evidence of a man who is not a manufacturer, and therefore is not concerned with the amount of this duty. He was called before the Tariff Commission to give evidence respecting the conditions of labour in Japan. I refer to a representative of the Queensland Government who was travelling through Japan.
– How many chairs do we get from Japan?
– The question is not what we do get, but what we may get. This witness said that the average mechanic’s wages in Japan was gd., and that the hours of labour were from 13 to 14 per day, including Sundays.
I was assured by the manager that two of his artisans were capable of turning out the work which would be done by a first-class English mechanic.
– That is only hearsay evidence.
– It is sworn evidence.
– He-was never in Japan.
– It is sworn evidence.
– Somebody Fold him.
– It is the evidence of Mr. Frederick Jones.
– I know him better than I know the honorable member.
– I ask honorable members to listen ito the evidence, in which he summed up the position - 761 14. By the Chairman. - Kindly summarize, for my benefit, your ideas about the state of labour in Japan as a competing country with Australia? - I singled out Java and Japan. I say there is an immediate danger from Java with respect to the furniture trade. “3y the furniture trade, as I have explained to the Commission, I do not mean fancy furniture, but every-day articles, such as chairs and tables, wardrobes, office-desks, and similar things. I know, of my own knowledge, they are preparing now to enter into competition here. T say also it is impossible for us to compete with them under the present Tariff of 2.5 per cent. That refers to Java only. The wood is teak, which is very cheap, and a very high class of wood. I also explained to the Commission that during my last visit to Java I met an Australian merchant there, who was on the spot preparing to introduce the furniture here.
– Last year ^24 worth was imported from Java.
– He continues -
I also told the Commission, in answer to a question, that if I were not engaged “*at the pre sent time, and I thought the Australian Tariff would not be raised, I myself would enter into the business of importing furniture from Java.
– Does the honorable member think that the importation of ^24 worth of furniture from Java is a serious question to talk about?
– It is not a question of what is coming in, but of what may come in. We are legislating not for to-day^ but for the future. This witness also said that he had seen women with children on their backs engaged in loading ships. If we could get this duty imposed it would give employment to hundreds of men. The machinery, has been ordered, and is on its way to the Commonwealth for the purpose of making a large quantity of this furniture. I hope that honorable members will give favorable consideration to the testimony of an independent witness who is not a Victorian or a New South Wales man, nor interested in a factory. I trust that they will give to this industry the protection it is entitled to receive.
– I think that the suggestion of the honorable member for Coolgardie to exempt furniture for hospitals and charitable institutions is worthy of consideration, but my difficulty is to devise some means by which it can reasonably be done.
– The Government themselves do so in the Tariff.
– If the Government are able to do that I am prepared to support the honorable member in that regard. We are now dealing with a line of articles which practically enter into every home which has any pretensions to decency and civilization. This duty if imposed will fall upon a very large section of the community. Under this Tariff the poorer classes who are compelled by their needs to buy the cheaper lines of furniture will have to contribute to a larger extent towards the revenue. The proposed minimum duty of 7s. 6d. per chair means that a number of the more expensive chairs- will probably cost twice as much as they do. But a large percentage of the chairs which are used by the working people do not cost much more than about half that sum. It means that the burden of this taxation will fall upon those who are least able to bear it, and who should receive some consideration at our hands. The honorable member for Bendigo has informed the Committee how. these high duties came to. be proposed.
Some witnesses went before the Tariff Commission, and raised the Asiatic bogy. They said that Australia was suffering from or threatened with competition from the East of such a character that the imposition of high duties was absolutely essential to maintain the Australian industry. The position was stated as oneChinaman making one chair per day at a wage of 4d. competing with a white man making one chair per day at 6s. It was asked, was it possible under those conditions for white people to compete with importations from the East. The honorable member did not state the extent of the competition or quote the figures derived from the Customs returns. I hold in my hand a return prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician and giving the figures for last year.
– Is it customary to pay 6s. for the making of a chairvalued at 3s. 6d. ?
– After this Tariff has passed through the House, I am very much afraid that the honorable member will have to pay that. According to this return, which covers all descriptions of furniture, the total importations for 1906 amounted to £244,355. Only about £24,572 worth came from the East, namely, £8,577 from Hong Kong, £1,146 from the Straits Settlements, £878 from China., and £13,971 worth from Japan. The new bogey which has been raised by the honorable member for Batman - Java - is not mentioned in the return.
– Yes; it shows that in 1906 we imported £24 worth from Java.
– I had not noticed the figures for Java. At any rate, that is an item which the Commonwealth can very well disregard. In 1906 £219,000 or £220,000 worth of this furniture was imported from European countries, Great Britain sending £102,000 worth, and Germany £63,000 worth ; while from the United States we imported £46,000 worth. That is a complete reply, I think, to the scare which was raised before the Tariff Commission, and which may be raised here as to the competition from eastern countries. I remind the Committee that the competition is in a line of articles which do not enter very largely into general use. It relates chiefly to cane and wickerwork chairs, settees, and articles of that description which are not used for the general purposes to which the kinds of furniture under consideration are adapted.
The chair which is more commonly used now is a bentwood chair known as the Austrian chair, but not necessarily made in that country. It is practically the only description of chair which is suitable to the varying temperatures which obtain in the Commonwealth. To place a duty of 7 s. 6d. on a chair of that class is simply to prohibit its use, and to inflict a great burden on a large section of the citizens. The amendment foreshadowed by the Treasurer is certainly an improvement on the item as it stands, and will, I hope, be adopted. I trust that a very reasonable reduction will be made, and that the specific duty will be replaced by an ad valorem duty, because the former places a very heavy burden on those who are compelled to buy the cheaper descriptions of chairs.
.- I regret that the Governmenthave seen fit to amend their proposals, and to place a number of items together. I understand that the Treasurer has proposed to put all furniture and all settees, lounges, and chairs under one heading.
– He has not done that.
– That, I believe, is the proposal which the Treasurer made before the adjournment for dinner - “ Furniture n.e.i.”
– No ; he is going to move in respect of settees, lounges, and chairs separately.
– When we come to those items no doubt the Minister will have them struck out.
– No; they will be put on the same footing as other furniture.
– What is the difference ? They might just as well be allowed to stand as they appear in the schedule.
– Does the honorable member flatter himself for a moment that he can get more duty put on chairs than on anything else ?
– I intend to put the case for chairs before the Committee, and to show that they differ from other furniture on account of the cost of packing. Some honorable members have spoken about the poor shopkeepers who have had thousands of cases of chairs kept in bond. Now, if a shopkeeper is in such a. position as to have thousands of cases of chairs consigned to him, he is by no means a poor man. There are four dozen chairs in each case.
– What sort of chairs ?
– Ordinary Vienna bentwood chairs and American chairs.
– Not bentwood chairs, surely?
– Yes; they are taken to pieces and packed for export. They take up less than one-fourth the amount of space that ordinary furniture does, so that the cost of freight would only be onefourth as much.
– Furniture is knocked down for packing, too.
– But it cannot be taken to pieces and packed so closely as chairs can be.
– Yes; it can be packed in a much smaller space.
– There are four dozen chairs in 16 cubic feet of space. The honorable member for Batman stated yesterday that goods had been brought out to Australia at a cost of 5s. per cubic ton. As a matter of fact, a ship which arrived in Melbourne last week brought out goods that were consumed in the fire on Saturday night at less than 5s. per ton measurement.
– What vessel?
– The Metropolis. She is the last,. I believe, of the cheap-freight vessels, , because the shipping companies have arrived at arn arrangement amongst themselves, and I have no doubt that freight will go up.
– Where did the goods come from?
– I do not know; but freight went down below 5s. per ton measurement recently. Goods were brought out at that figure, not only to Melbourne, but also to Sydney. There is no trade in which labour represents so large a proportion to the value of the article as it does in regard to furniture. If we take the timber as it stands in the forest,, and consider the amount of labour expended upon it before it takes its place as furniture in the. homes of the rich or of the poor, or in the hospital, we shall find that the labour in some cases represents 95 per cent, of the value of the article.
– Does not that apply to everything ?
– The proportion is not nearly so great in other lines as it is in regard to furniture.
– Take the iron line.
– Take the honorable member’s suit of clothes. From the raw wool to the suit of clothes, the labour cost does not represent anything near the same percentage as the proportion of labour involved in furniture, from the timber to the finished article, although wool is a more valuable product to start with than timber is. I regret that the Government have not seen fit to adhere to their original proposal. The Tariff Commission went carefully into this matter, and the Chairman has told us that the chairs they had in mind in making their recommendation for a duty of 7s. 6d. per chair were the cheap chairs that are imported into this country from places like China and Japan. Speaking of furniture generally, honorable members who have taken the trouble to look into the figures, will have observed that the imports have increased during the last three years. In 1904, the imports were valued at ,£181,620; in 1905, they went up to ,£201,284; and in 1906, to £212,526. It may be said that there has been an increase in local manufacture, but I think we are entitled to have the whole of this trade for the benefit of Australian workmen. I believe that Australians have a greater right to share in the prosperity of this country than any foreigner has, no matter where he may be domiciled.
– The honorable member wants trade for Ah Wong of Little Bourkestreet.
– No; I have always been in favour of securing the trade for the white workman. There is not to-day, and there has not been, a Chinaman employed in the only chair factory in Melbourne, which, I am given to understand, is the only chair factory pure and simple in the Commonwealth. Of course, any cabinetmaker can make a chair, but not at a price to compete with articles imported at very low figures. An invoice has been handed to me by the honorable member for Batman, which shows the low price of imported chairs. Messrs. John A. Dunn’s chairs, imitation walnut, imitation rosewood, imitation mahogany, and imitation antique oak, are sold at j£i us. 3d. per dozen f.o.b., New York. Chairs in natural oak, antique oak and English oak, are sold at £1 15s. sd. per dozen f.o.b., New York. I admit that the duty proposed on chairs is probably the highest duty in the Tariff. But that does not frighten me.
– I suppose the honorable member has bought all the chairs he wants?
– I think not. Even in such a well-kept family as the honorable member has, the children will occasionally break the furniture. I am a family man myself, and I do not think I have all the chairs that I shall require if I livemuch longer, as I have no doubt that my children will break chairs. Referring to the imports from foreign countries, the honorable member for Lang endeavoured to ridicule the amount of furniture imported from Java.
– I referred to the statistical returns for last year.
– I have the same returns before me. They show that the value of the imports from Germany was £49,160.
– The honorable member for Batman was complaining about Java.
– The value of the imports from Japan was £14,194; and from China, £7,489. We can, at any rate, deal with the Chinaman whom we have in this country; but we cannot deal with the Chinaman in China. We have no control over the conditions under which he lives and works. In Victoria, we have endeavoured, by means of our Factories Act, to insure that the Chinaman shall receive the same wages as are paid to Europeans. According to their employers, they receive more; although I and many others, especially those in the trade, doubt this.
– The honorable member for Batman said that the competition which we have to fear is the Javanese.
– I say nothing about that, because the Javanese competition does not appear to be very great according to these figures. From Great Britain we imported £60,000 worth, and from Austria £16,000 worth, of the total of £212,000 worth of furniture, and I have not the slightest doubt that by far the greater proportion of that furniture could be made here.
– Is it sent here for nothing, or do we send anything of ours in return ?
– According to the export returns for last year we sent away a great deal more than we got in return. We do not receive in return the full amount of the goods that we send out. I hope the Committee will agree to the duties on general furniture proposed by the Government - 40 per cent. and 30 per cent. If I could get a majority to vote with me, I would support a duty of 40 per cent. all round. I have never said that I was going for preferential trade; or, rather,I would vote for preferential trade in precisely the same way as free-traders do. They vote for preferential trade to reduce duties, and I will vote for preferential trade if by so doing I can increase them. If I can only get a comparatively small duty against Great Britain, and a large duty against other countries, I am to that extent a preferential trader. But I did not try to get elected on the preferential trade ticket. My attitude is perfectly clear on that subject.
– Is not Great Britain the “ dear old Motherland”?
– I have nothing to say against the Mother Country. I had as good a time when I was there as most Australians have. But we are now considering the interests of Australia. I trust the Committee will recollect that by far the larger part of the cost of furniture goes in labour, and, further, that it is a highly skilled trade, and that in that respect it is a more important industry than any other. It is true that the furniture trade in this State is to-day practically monopolized by the Chinese. If I had my way I would impose a heavy Excise duty against them. If we could impose an Excise on Chinese furniture, as we have done against black labour sugar, I would heartily welcome such a proposal.
– It is unnecessary, if the trade is worked under a sufficient award of the Arbitration Court.
– The difficulty is to enforce a Wages Board determination, or an Arbitration Court award, in the case of Chinamen. No matter how fair the decision of the Judge may be, if the employer and employe like to act in collusion the award can be broken down. That is what I fear is being done in regard to the furniture trade. About 500 Chinese are employed in the furniture industry in Victoria. We have been told by the honorable member for Dalley, in one of his lectures, that we should not go outside the reports of the Tariff Commission for our information.
– Well, read the blue book.
– I intend to read from the red, book; the honorable member can afterwards read from the blue book, if he desires to do so. This is some of the evidence of Mr. Archibald Dobson, the secretary to the United Furniture Trades Society, Melbourne -
Eighty per cent. of the furniture imported could be made in the Commonwealth. The furniture that cannot be made locally is bent wood.
– That is not quite correct, because a plant has been put down for the manufacture of such furniture.
– Yes. A firm in Melbourne has gone to the expense of ordering machinery which will be useless unless a high duty is placed on chairs.
– Are we to save rash speculators?
– The members of the firm knew that the Tariff Commission had recommended a duty of 7 s. 6d. each on chairs, that the Government were pledged to protection, and that in addition to the Ministerial supporters, many of the honorable members sitting on the Opposition corner benches were elected to support effective protection. Mr. Dobson continued -
The furniture that cannot be made locally is bent work, though chairs are produced in Australia that take the place of bent wood chairs to a great extent. One of the greatest troubles is the Chinese competition. This, in conjunction with the imports, leaves very little for the white cabinetmakers in Australia to do. There are factories in Melbourne which used to employ numbers of men in making furniture, but which employ none now. In New South Wales the trade has been saved somewhat by the piano factory being established. A great number of furniture makers are now employed at that work. They wanted more duty and fewer Chinese.
– What does Mr. Dobson know about the conditions of employment in Sydney i
- Mr. Dobson has made many journeys to Sydney during the last few years, and as secretary to a federated society knows the conditions that obtain in both Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne workers often go to Sydney to obtain employment, while many Sydney workers are to be found in Melbourne. It has been stated in this chamber that high duties tend to increase prices, but, according to a witness before the Tariff Commission -
Prices have decreased under increased protection. Under a 15 per cent, duty the price for a five-drawer cedar chest was £3 17s. 6d. ; under a 25 per cent, duty the increased output enabled them to sell the same article at £2 ros. A seven-drawer chest, formerly sold at £4 17s. 6d., afterwards sold at £2 15s.; and an eight-drawer serpentine Scotch chest, sold then at £q unpolished, is now £6.
That is the evidence of Mr. Mathias, of
– Apparently, if we make the duty high enough, furniture will be given away.
– It was also stated that-
A certain imported overmantel is quoted at
Ss. 6d., or in half-dozens at 8s. To produce that locally it would cost 5s. 6d. for labour, 8s. for glass, and 4s. or 5s. for timber. Mantels and overmantels vary in price. A mantelpiece is sold as low as 7s. 6d., and an overmantel at the same rate - or r5S. for the complete article.
Some honorable members have contended that hospitals should get their furniture free; but hospitals, and all public institutions, which are supported by Government money, should pay duty on imported furniture, just as private persons must do.
– Such duties are a tax on the suffering and sick.
– I trust that the Committee will impose a sufficiently high duty on furniture to increase the employment available to the men engaged in the chairmaking and general furniture trade, so that the industry will foe more profitable to the workers engaged in it in the future than it has been in the past.
.- The honorable member for Yarra has spoken with great vigour, as, he always does, in favour of high duties on furniture. He might appropriately have said, in the language of Macbeth - “ This line ‘ will chair me ever, or disseat me now.’ “ Although he asks for more protection to the furniture trade, I have evidence that in South Australia that trade is in a very flourishing condition. He has read Mr. Mathias’ evidence, and I would accept Mr. Mathias’ statements, even if they were not sworn, because I know his character and ability. He is managing a factory which was started under him a few years ago, about 3 miles from Adelaide, and did so well under the old Tariff that it can scarcely cope with its orders. It turns out a tip-top article, with the result that its output has increased enormously, and I believe that Mr. Mathias would he able to find work for 50 or 100 hands to-morrow, at high wages, if the honorable member for Yarra could supply them to him.
– He could take on fifty men.
– I speak from knowledge. I do not think that he wishes for a higher duty than 25 per cent. The factory to which I allude has been successful from every point of view, and this afternoon I received a letter in regard to the condition of the furniture-making industry in South Australia, in which the writer says -
Referring to the policy of a high Tariff upon chairs and upon furniture generally, the trade desires to point out that the equipment of the manufacturing trade, though large and increasing, is quite . unsuitable to adequately increase the supply of locally-made goods. In men alone, the trade is most seriously deficient, and every State is competing with every other, almost tinsuccessfully, to obtain men. In an instance of which I have personal knowledge, the largest manufacturer in Adelaide has had an order for twenty-four dozen chairs of one pattern for over five weeks, and has only succeeded, after serious delay, in delivering half-a-dozen, and subsequently a few more, whilst there is no prospect in sight of obtaining sufficient for pressing needs. This kind of difficulty has been chronic for over twelve months with regard, also to all furniture.
As a matter of fact, I believe that it does not pay to manufacture in Australia chairs of the kind upon which a duty of 7 s. 6d. each has been imposed. Such chairs will not be made here for many years to come ; one of the reasons being that,, with skilled labour so scarce, it is more profitable to employ men in making betterclass furniture. There is a great disparity between the wages paid in Austria and America, from which countries most of these chairs come - or in Japan - from which there- is a small importation - and those paid in Australia. It does not pay the Australian manufacturers who have a big business in better-class furniture to make chairs which are exported for 2s. nd. each.
– The cheapest chairs come from America.
– Ten firms have quoted the f.o.b. price to me as 2s. rid. each. As regards the proposed duty of 7s. 6d. each, I will quote the figures of two invoices, which show how unfair it is. The value of twenty-seven chairs imported was £7 7s. 9d., on which the old duty would have been £1 2s. 5d.. but on which the new duty will come to £10 2s. 6d. On 888 other chairs, valued at £183 8s., the old duty of 29 per cent, would have been £42 2s., whilst the new duty of 7s. 6d. each will be £333- Should such a duty as that be allowed to remain? My opinion is that the furniture trade, which is a flourishing one, would be fairly treated if an all round duty of 25 per cent, were imposed.
– There are one or two figures which I should like to put before the Committee. The more I see of the reports- signed by the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, the more surprised I am at the manner in which they have been framed in respect to the evidence upon which they have been based. To-day wwe were informed that one witness told the Commission that Australian manufacturers could not compete against importations from China and Japan ; that in
China, men got 4d. for making a chair, while here they would get 6s. That statement was, on the face of it, absurd. Who would pay 6s. for the making of a chair which could not be sold in the open market for more ‘than 3s. 6d. ? Such statements carry their own refutation. Yet the Chairman of the Tariff Commission has built up his reports on them, and has made them the ground for recommending high . duties. There is very little furniture imported from the countries I have named, only £8,000 worth coming from China; and £[14,000 worth from Japan, or £22,000 worth altogether from the East; while from Great Britain, Canada, and the United States we get £120,000 worth Clearly, there again we have to fear not the cheap pauper labour, but the highlypaid, intelligent labour of the world. That is the cause of our trouble, if trouble there he. We import about £212,000 worth of furniture per annum. I find from the Statistical Year-Book that as far back, as 1904 we had engaged in this industry in Australia 5,000 male hands, in addition to about 428 females. I presume that the number has since greatly increased; but for the purposes of our argument let us assume that there are only 5.000 male hands engaged in the industry to-day. I have just made some inquiries from a practical man in the chamber, who tells me that it is safe to say that the total market value of the furniture turned out in twelve months by a fair average furniture-maker is at least £500. That being so. and assuming that these 5.000 nien are fully employed, we are annually manufacturing furniture of the value of £2,500,000. That is really an under-estimate, for even in 1904 there were, as I have said, 5,000 males and 428 females, engaged in the industry. We import about £i worth for every £11 10s. worth of furniture that we make in Australia; in other words, our total importations to-day represents only about 8 per cent, or 9 per cent, of the value of the furniture that is locally made. Does that show that we cannot hold up our heads under the old duties? Does it show that the industry is strangled? On the contrary, it clearly and unmistakably indicates that we are able to-day tto compete with the rest of the world - that the industry is flourishing, and that we do not need the imposition which the Treasurer, acting on the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, has seen fit to propose. I wonder why tthe Chairman of the Tariff Commission has not been able to give us some of the information that I have just furnished to the Committee, and which any honorable member could: obtain by referring .to Coghlan. I fail to understand why we have been paying thousands of pounds to enable the Commission- to make investigations when, by reference to Coghlan, we can obtain better information than it furnishes. The honorable member for Bendigo must be playing with the Committee when ihe declines to give us any information except from one interested ‘individual who says that he cannot carry on, and that if we do not put a stop to Chinese labour he will have to go under. The figures I have quoted show that it is the Chinaman in Australia and not the Chinaman abroad that is hurting us. Does the honorable member for Yarra expect me. as a self-respecting decent white man, to decline to take the furniture made by men of my own kith and kin in order to find work for Chinamen in Melbourne? Before he asks for these prohibitive duties he ought to tell us what he is going to do with the Chinese in the furniture trade in Australia. He is frank enough to tell us that the furniture industry here is in the hands of the Chinese, and yet he is clamouring for prohibitive duties in order to protect them against our own kith and kin at Home.
– What about the white men engaged in the industry in South Australia?
– So far as I am able to see, the white men in the furniture trade of South Australia are doing very well; I have not heard that their industry is being strangled. The industry in Sydney is not. M!ost of the large warehouses in Sydney are making their own furniture, and excellent it is. On visiting Anthony Hordern’s warehouse, one finds that furniture equal to anything that the world can produce is being manufactured there. The figures I have quoted show that under the old duty of 20 per cent, furniture-makers in Australia have found no difficulty in competing with’ imports from China, Japan, and the rest of the world.
– Does not all the bamboo furniture come from China?
– I have just quoted the figures.
– I do not’ think that they were fair.
- Mr. Knibbs shows that only .£8,000 worth of furniture was imported last vear from China.
– Has the honorable member any figures as to the imports from the Straits Settlements?
– Our imports from the Straits Settlements last year were of the value of ,£1,100. Can we survive such an importation ? We are annually manufacturing furniture of the value of £2,5,00,000, and ,£1,100 worth is coming in from the Straits Settlements ! I wonder that the Chairman of the Tariff Commission did not sink to the earth when he heard of those figures. We ought at once to cease passing Tariff enactments under which ,£1,100 worth of furniture can be imported from the Straits Settlements ; we ought to pass a general prohibition Act, preventing anybody or anything from coming into Australia. . As to the 7s. 6d. chairs, I do not think that we need trouble about them. If I am any judge of the common-sense of the Committee,,, they are doomed, and I hope that we shall not waste time in debating that phase of the question.
– Does the Minister intend to include them in this item?
– They will not be in this item unless I strike out an item below.
– Is the Treasurer going to do that?
– I do not know.
– The honorable member would save a great deal of time by telling us what he intends to do. At any rate, I ‘ invite the Committee to consider well the broad facts of the situation. If there were any danger of our furnituremakers going under, I should not object to the old duties being increased. But they have established themselves in the Commonwealth, and all the statistics I can find show that they are prospering, and need not fear outside competition. They are doing very well, and we ought not to increase the duties.
– Why should they not do better?
– We ought not to impose further duties, because when we have brought our industrial enterprises into a state of fair competition with outside industries we have done, even from a protectionist point of view, all that we ought to do. If we do more, we close the gates ; we prohibit importations of any kind, and assuredly in such cases our industries will not thrive. The. moment it begins to build walls to keep out the skill, efficiency, enterprise, and competition of the world, a nation begins to decay. That is the history of the world, and therefore those honorable members who talk about effective protection simply mean to level the conditions of competition, and not to abolish competition altogether.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta has just told us that 5,000 males are engaged in the furniture trade of the Commonwealth, and he has chided the Chairman of the Tariff Commission for not putting before the Committee information gleaned in the course of its inquiries. The honorable member, however, instead of seeking ii> formation . from the Minutes of Evidence taken by the Commission in 1906, has turned to Coghlan for 1904. Had he examined the reports of the Commission, he would have found that the employment of Europeans in the furniture trade of Australia is, not as he suggests,, increasing, but is decreasing, and that the Chinese are largely displacing the white man in the industry.
– And yet the honorable member proposes to grant further protection to the Chinese.
– I hope that the honorable member will join with others on this side in their efforts to place some kind of an embargo on the employment of coloured men in this industry, and to grant substantial protection to the white-workers. At page 404 of volume V. of the Minutes of Evidence taken by the Commission appears a statement by the Secretary of the United Furniture Trade Workers of Melbourne that -
One of the greatest troubles that we suffer from in the States is, of course, the Chinese difficulty. What with the Chinese in the furniture trade, and the imports, there is very little left for the cabinetmakers of Australia to do. In Victoria, I think the last returns show “that there were not more than 145 cabinetmakers working in the whole State . . whereas I am given to understand that the last returns available show that there were 672 Chinese working at furniture in Melbourne alone.
I hope that the honorable member for Parramatta will examine this sworn evidence, which shows that, according to the latest returns available, there were 672 Chinese engaged in the furniture trade in Melbourne as against 145 white men so employed in the whole State.
– And the honorable member wishes to put a ring-fence round the Chinamen. There is a fine lot of White Australians on that side of the House.
– We shall know what kind of a White Australian the honorable member for Parramatta is when we ask him to vote for an Excise duty on furniture made by aliens- in. Australia, with the object” of lessening the number of Chinese employed in the furniture trade. The witness from whom I have quoted dealt later on with the wages paid to Chinese in “Victoria, and he said - “ We have come to the conclusion, reckoning the cost of material and so forth, that the Chinese are not getting more on an average than ios. or 11s. per week in the furniture trade. We do not feel’ disposed to come down to that standard of living, and therefore they can beat us every time. It is a matter of impossibility to compete against them.”
At question 76223 the witness was asked - “ Can you say whether these Chinese furniture makers are as a rule properly-trained tradesmen?” and his answer was - “They are not. Thev used to come here imported in batches. About nine years ago one Chinaman who could not pay his creditors went away, and he agreed with eighteen Chinese to pay them 2s. 6d. per week and their rice. He went away without paying the half-crown a week. Those Chinese came out here, not as boys, but as grown-up men, and they were put on to clean up stuff. Chinese are very good copyists. They do not work from drawings or designs, but from the finished article in front of them.”
We often hear statements made about the States Parliaments introducing legislation to check the employment of Chinese in factories. In answer to question 76177 this witness admitted that the Chinese had an unlimited right to work at the furniture trade in Victoria, and I am in a position to say that they have the same right in New South Wales. Mr. Dobson is an expert in the furniture trade, and understands its conditions in all of the States. In another part of his evidence he made this startling statement in reference to Victoria - “ We should also be glad if some recommendation could be made in connexion with the Chinese difficulty. The Chinese, as I have explained, have got the furniture trade of Victoria in their own hands. In New South Wales they have it nearly in their own hands ; and in Western Australia, not only have they gone into the manufacturing part of the business, but they arc doing the retail trade as well. They have their warehouses, and they pocket the middleman’s profits by selling to the public direct.”
He states what, in his opinion, the ultimate outcome is likely to be, and he says - “ If the Chinese have come here to stay, and nothing can be done to stop them, all I can say is that the cabinet-making ‘industry will go ultimately out of the hands of white workers. There is no question at all about that.”
I admit the necessity for a duty on furniture to protect our white workers in the trade against the cheap labour of Germany, China, Japan, Java, and other places where furniture is manufactured very cheaply, and we can. apply the. new protection to protect the public. But it is just as necessary that we should do something to protect “the white workers in the trade in Australia from the unfair competition of Chinese within the Commonwealth. Coloured labour is as great an evil in the furniture industry as it was in the sugar industry, and we know that in the past this Parliament made special provision to meet the disabilities under which white workers in the sugar industryhave to labour. I ask the Minister now to say whether he will not make some attempt to’ deal with the Chinese in the furniture trade, and protect the white men engaged in that trade by means of an Excise provision such as that which has been applied to the sugar industry and to the agricultural implement trade. In dealing with the sugar industry this Parliament has already given effect to the principle that white workers must be protected against coloured labour in the cane-fields. It is not sufficient to protect the white nien employed in the furniture trade against the products of black labour outside of Australia. It is absolutely imperative that we should do something to prevent white men from being expelled altogether from the furniture trade by the employment in Australia itself of coloured labour in the industry. The ‘ necessity for action in the matter is shown by the statement that in this trade there are 672 Chinese employed in Melbourne alone, as against 145 white men throughout Victoria. I ask the Treasurer now to say whether he will not make some statement on this matter?
– I cannot be always making statements.
– If there is a big evil in our midst we should take advantage of every opportunity afforded to us to deal with it. An opportunity is afforded now in dealing with the Tariff, and it is only at rare intervals that a Tariff is before Parliament. We can make some provision to protect white workers against the competition of Chinese in this industry in Australia. I say that the Treasurer should inform the Committee whether the protection to this industry for which he is asking is to be for the benefit of the white men or the coloured men engaged in the industry. If I did not believe that we might do something to secure the protection asked for bv these duties for the white workers in the furniture trade I should be prepared to vote free-trade on these items. If the Treasurer will not make a statement on the subject, and if he is not concerned-
– What right has the honorable member to say that I am not concerned, when he knows that I am? He is asking me to interpose something which should be dealt with at another time. He is asking me to make a statement that would provoke a debate quite outside the question before the Committee.
– If we do not ask the Treasurer at this stage for protection for the white man against the Chinaman in this industry, when are we to ask him. for it?
– We do not want it.
– I am surprised to hear a Labour man say that. From, an intimate knowledge of men engaged in the furniture trade, and from associating with them iri the Trades Halls of Melbourne and Sydney, I say without fear of truthful contradiction that the white, men in the furniture trade do require protection against the local Chinese. Is it not well known that they have been seeking in vain to secure that protection by means of State legislation? They cannot get the protection they desire under State laws, and as we have the opportunity now to give it to them w« should do it. If we let this opportunity pass, we do not know when we shall have another opportunity to impose Excise duties on Chinese made furniture, which would give a real protection to the white men engaged in the industry.
– What is the honorable member going to do about it?
– I am going to do my best to secure Excise duties on Chinese made furniture. I find that the Treasurer will not make a statement on the subject.
– Of course he will not.
– I am ‘not asking the honorable member for Mernda to make a statement.
– The honorable member is out of order, any way.
– When I am asked to vote for a duty on furniture I cannot be out of order in asking the Treasurer whether he will see that the white workers in the industry obtain the benefit of the protection proposed. If I cannot get the information I desire now, I suppose I shall have to be content to get it later on. The honorable member for Parramatta laughs, but it is very likely that when the- time comes we shall npt find him ready to secure protection for white men engaged in this industry.
– I am tired of the honorable member’s blank cartridge.
– I think we shall find that the honorable member will not be ready to fight the battle of the white workers of Australia. I hope the Treasurer will take some note of what has been said in connexion with the employment of Chinese in this industry. There is no phase of the question of so much importance to the white workers in the furniture trade as that connected with the competition of Chinese within the Commonwealth.
– Is this a second reading speech ?
– A number of honorable members, and especially those in the capitalistic corner, grin when we talk about protecting the white man against the Chinese ; but this is a most serious matter, and I hope that the Treasurer, when we come to deal With the Excise duties will see that protection is given to white men in the furniture trade just as it has been given to white men engaged in the sugar industry and other industries in the Commonwealth. I hope that when the Tariff is finally dealt with it will be found that we have done something, not only to protect this industry in Australia, but to conserve it for white men.
.- I did not intend to speak on this matter, but as several supporters of the Government Gave made speeches so closely resembling a stone-wall of the Tariff, I may be pardoned for attempting to reply to some of the’ statements that have been made, which are of such a nature that we cannot allow them to pass without criticism. The arguments, advanced by those of the Labour members who support these high duties, show that their only effect will be to give a greater monopoly of the work to the Chinese in Australia, particularly in Little Bourkestreet and other parts of Melbourne. The original reason why the Chinese have outstripped the Europeans in the manufacture of furniture was the imposition of the high Victorian duties. Twenty-five years ago, when the Chinese came here, they were not expert cabinetmakers. They manufactured a low grade of common cedar chair. When the Victorian duty was imposed, the dealers, owing to the low price of the imported lowgrade chair, were forced to go to the’ Chinese for their supplies, and under their tuition the Chinese gradually became more expert. At that time we had no Chinese cabinetmakers in Sydney, but as the Melbourne Chinese became experts, they crossed the border and entered into competition with the European cabinetmakers of Sydney. Consequently, we in New South Wales have had to bear the burden of this Chinese competition, resulting from the high Victorian duty in the .past. A return called for by the honorable member for Kooyong showed that in New South Wales in 1898 there were sixty-nine factories, and 1,075 adult males employed; while in 1900 there were seventy-seven factories, and J.333 adult males employed in cabinetmaking, &c. In Victoria in 1898 there were fifty-six factories, and 808 adult male operatives; while in 1900 there were fiftynine factories, . and 922 adult males employed. The following return shows the proportion of male and female adults and children employed, and the total number of operatives in each State: -
These figures make it clear that under the lower New South Wales Tariff there were more factories, giving more employment, and making a better class of furniture, and that altogether the industry was much more flourishing than it was in Victoria under the higher protective Tariff. From evidence given by representatives of the Upholstery and Cabinetmakers’ Unions of Sydney and Melbourne, it would appear that the competition of the Chinese was not felt very severely at that time, and that the wages in Sydney were higher than in Melbourne before the trade in the latter city was put under Wages Boards, and were somewhat higher even for some time afterwards. The following evidence was given before the Royal Commission on the Victorian Factories Act, sitting in Sydney, in July, 1901. Mr. T; H. Thrower, president of the Sydney Labour Council, and well known in New South Wales as a prominent trades unionist, said -
In Hie furniture trade the work was mostly 1 lone on the piece-work system, in the cabinet branch the average earning* being from £2 5s. to £2 ys. 6d. for forty-eight hours. The Victorian Factories Act had not drawn any of their best men from Sydney.
On the same occasion Mr. E. W. Cutler, secretary of the Cabinetmakers’ Union, of Sydney, stated -
Wages average £2 12s.’ 6d. for barely fortyeight hours per week. The average is as high as in Melbourne under the Wages Board determination.
Mr. A. Dobson, secretary of the Furniture Operatives’ Union, of Melbourne, addressing the Trades Hall Council, as reported in the Argus, of the 2nd August, 1901, quoted a letter received from the secretary of the Sydney union, showing wages to be higher in Sydney than in Melbourne. Mr. Dobson added -
Wages of furniture makers and polishers in Sydney have never come down to the level of those ruling in Victoria. Men receive 45s. in Sydney for work for which men are paid 35s. in Melbourne.
This was all under the influence of the lower duty in New South Wales, where the wages paid’ were higher than those paid in Melbourne, although the workers in the latter city were supposed to be getting the benefit of the higher protective duty, which was presumably imposed in the interests of the workers. The conditions in Melbourne before the minimum wage enactment was passed are shown by evidence given bv delegates of various trades at a conference held between the Trades’ Hall Council and the Anti-Sweating League, as reported in the Age of nth June, 1900. The wickerworkers’ delegate stated that under the piece-work system boys were employed to do the work, one factory having fourteen men, twenty boys, and three improvers. The Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria, in his annual report for 1897, stated that adult furniture operatives earned an average of 31s. id. per week at that time. A comparison of prices of most of the furniture is almost impossible, but it can be made regarding some lines. Kohn’s Vienna chairs may be cited, the prices being those of Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons, of Sydney, and Messrs. Wallach Brothers, of Melbourne, before 8th October, 1901. For number 14 the. Sydney price was 4s. 9d., and the Melbourne price 5s. 6d. for the same chair. For number 20 the Sydney price was 5s. -6d., and the Melbourne price 6s. 3d. I have here a great deal of statistical information, as well as a number of invoices, which I might quote to the Committee, but I do not want to occupy too much time. I wish to be as brief as I can, consistently with giving the necessary reply to some of the arguments which have been advanced on the other side. At the present time some of the best furniture made in Melbourne is being made by Chinese workers. I went with Mr. Lonsdale, who formerly represented New England in this House, through one of the furniture factories of Melbourne. When we were admiring some magnificent specimens of cabinet work on exhibition, we were greatly surprised to learn that the furniture which we most admired, and thought to be high-class European manufacture, had been made by Chinese in this city, who were receiving wages higher than those paid here to Europeans.
– A Chinaman cannot turn out a good article.
– That statement is not borne out by facts which are easily obtained in this city. The honorable member is not in possession of the facts as Mr. Lonsdale and myself were. I am speaking from my own personal “ observation of the work. The manufacturers said to us, “ We do not mind telling you that this is all Chinese-made furniture, that we pay the highest, wages to Chinese, and get the best class of goods from them; but it would not do for us to tell that to our ordinary customers, because there would be a prejudice against the furniture on that account.” I mention those facts to show that the effect of the high Victorian duty in the beginning was to encourage the’ making of furniture by Chinese, and 10 establish them firmly in our midst, and that the only effect of the high duty now proposed will be to further entrench them in this trade, and give them a practical monopoly as against their white competitors in America, Canada, and Great Britain. In the light of those figures, I hope that honorable members who claim to represent labour interests will pause before they consent to the imposition of such a high duty, or anything approaching it, as is proposed in this Tariff.
.- I wish to reply briefly on one or two points. I believe there is a general understanding in the Committee as to what duties are to be agreed to. The honorable member for Angas, in referring to the great prosperity of the furniture factory at Edwardstown, South Australia, spoke as though its proprietors and manager did not desire increased duties. The honorable member argued that the previous duties had brought about such an era of prosperity that the firm required nothing further. But the evidence of Mr. Mathias, the manager, given before the Tariff Commission, in Adelaide - and since repeated to me and a good many other honorable members personally - was that they could compete with the high-class goods imported, but complained that under the existing low Tariff the markets were flooded with cheap importations from foreign countries, where low wages were paid. This is the largest firm of furniture makers in Australia. Their manager added that they were not afraid of outside competition in high-class goods, such as bed-room suites, roll-top desks, &c. ; but they could not compete against shoddy importations, such as overmantels and wire doors, closet seats, and similar articles. He mentioned that the firm were about to start the making of bentwood furniture from Tasmanian and Australian blackwood. Since that time they have put down the necessary plant, and have successfully experimented with the bending of Australian and Tasmanian blackwood for making bentwood chairs. The plant has now been put down, and work will be proceeded with as soon as the necessary operatives can be secured. The honorable member for Cook suggested that some special anti-Chinese legislation should be passed, but to any proposal of that kind I am strongly opposed. Ever since I have had a seat in Parliament I have protested against the introduction of Asiatics or any undesirable persons, but I have always taken the view that if these people are admitted into the country we ought to treat them as we treat other citizens.
– The Chinese cannot be made to observe European conditions.
Mr.- BATCHELOR.- Our great objection to the Chinese is really that their work is cheaper than ours. I would point out, however, that” this problem has been solved in South Australia without the aid of any special legislation. In that State formerly, as in Victoria and elsewhere, the furniture trade was practically in the hands of the Chinese until the firms of A. Pengelly and Company, Edwardstown, and Marshall and Company, Adelaide, erected up-to-date machinery, and by this means drove the foreigners out of the business. There are more white men employed in the one factory at Edwardstown than, according to the honorable member for Cook, there are employed in the trade in the whole of Victoria. This is not a matter of protection against the outside world, but one of internal competition between whites and Chinese. New protection, wages boards, and so forth, which make for equal conditions for all, ought to be sufficient, in combination with up-to-date machinery, to enable white men to successfully compete against the Chinese workers.
– We require special legislation as well.
– In my opinion it is a reflection on us as white men and on our civilization, to admit that any special legislation is necessary. Given equal conditions, we can compete with the Chinese every time.
– Why was an Excise duty placed on black-grown sugar?
– In order that the kanakas might be deported.
– We ought to get rid of the Chinese who are here.
– I am afraid we cannot quite do that. ‘ It is necessary to have a duty sufficiently high to secure the home market, and thus make it worth while to invest in thoroughly up-to-date machinery. Under such circumstances furniture would probably be cheaper than under free-trade conditions.
.- The acting leader of the Opposition complainedthat I had not afforded sufficient information or evidence to justify the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, and particularly the recommendation in reference to chairs and lounges. I do not deem it necessary in all cases to go through the reports of the Commission, which are accessible to all honorable members.
-Does the honorable member not think it his duty to justify this very large increase of the duty on chairs ? ‘
– I did not think it necessary to make a long statement. I merely desired to draw attention to one passage in the evidence, though I might have referred to many; However, as the honorable member has challenged me I shall invite his attention to another passage in the report of the Tariff Commision, page 471-
In Victoria it was pointed out that the wages in China, India, and Japan (including the Straits Settlements) are abnormally low - from 5d. to9d. per day. Some of the lounges and chairs coming from these countries and invoiced at 5s. would take three days to make.
Similar statements were made by Mr. Lowe and Mr. Dobson, who are engaged in the trade in Victoria. In Western Australia, Mr. Baker, a furniture maker, voiced the complaints of the manufacturers as to the bitter competition caused by imports from the Straits Settlements, and as to extensive dumping on the part of the United States. Another wickerworker, named Jarvis, in Western Australia, complained that the price of wicker furniture in that State had decreased considerably during the last fifteen years, owing to the importation of inferior goods, while in some cases the cost of material had increased, and in other particular lines had decreased, during that time. Mr. Baker further said that locallymade rattan lounges, which are of superior make, were sold wholesale at from 25s. upwards, while the imported article was retailed at 17s. 6d. ; and that chairs were sold at Singapore, f.o.b., at 4s. 6d., while similar chair’s were marked in the shop windows at Adelaide at 11s. 6d., and had been sold at auction for 9s. 6d. That price, Mr. Baker said, does not pay local manufacturers, and Mr. Jarvis added that ordinary lounges could be produced locally at about 22s. 6d., while the imported article was sold at 10s. or 12s. It will be seen therefore, that it was not only the evidence of the three witnesses in Melbourne on which this fixed duty was based.
By the way, this duty was intended to operate on wicker and bamboo work ; but, unfortunately, by inadvertence in the drafting of the Tariff, it was made generally applicable to all chairs. I propose to ask the Committee to so amend these items as to confine them to wicker and bamboo chairs, leaving other chairs and lounges to come under the general duty of 40 per cent. In regard to importations, the Commission and myself have been accused of negligence in not giving consideration to that questions. However, I invite the attention of honorable members to the complete details, as shown on page 475 of the Tariff Commission’s report, as follows -
The following figures, taken from Trade and Customs Returns, 1904, pages 420-1, show the value of imported wickerware into the Commonwealth for the years specified : - 1900 (prior to Commonwealth Tariff), £90,397; 1901, £117,528; 1902,£153,764;1903,£104,408;1904,£120,607 total, £586,704. The total imports from Germany of wickerware were : -1900, £6,652; 1901, £7,568; 1902, £9,206; 1903, £9,486; 1904, £6,658 ; total, £39,554. The imports into Australia from the Straits Settlements were : - 1900, £5,980; 1901, £12,458: 1902, £5,627; 1903, £6,432; 1904, £7,198; total, £37,695.
– The imports were practically stationary with an increasing population.
– The population was not increasing in the same ratio as the importations.
– Yes, and in greater ratio. The importations from the Straits Settlements lastyear dropped to £1,100.
– Importations fluctuate. I have now laid before honorable members the information which was available to the Tariff Commission; and I submit that the acting leader of the Opposition was not justified in his charge that we did not properly investigate the matter or place sufficient material at the disposal of honorable members.
– When this item was reached, before the dinner-hour, the Treasurer led us to understand that its consideration would occupy only a few minutes. As a matter of fact, the discussion has continued for a considerable time; and it would be out of place on my part to prolong it further than to make a suggestion which I think may meet with approbation. If I am able to judge the feeling of the Committee, the duty is objectionable chiefly in its application to chairs; but I understand that the Treasurer will so arrange the items as to meet that objection - the duty of 7s. 6d. being abandoned. There seems to be a feeling that the general duty on furniture is rather high ; and I think that ‘the discussion might be shortened if the Treasurer were to accept duties of 35 pet cent, and 25 per cent.
– I wish to say a word or two in reply to the honorable member for Bendigo, who acted as Chairman of the Tariff Commission. I am glad that he quoted the figures which he did, because they furnish incontestable proof that higher duties are not needed to protect our furniture trade. The honorable member referred to wicker furniture. But I have learned from the Customs officers in attendance upon the Treasurer that last year the total importations of this class of furniture into the Commonwealth were valued at about £25,000. So that there has been a huge drop in the importations since the period to- which the honorable member referred.
– The figures which the honorable member has quoted have been obtained since our report was drawn up.
– The honorable member’s own statistics show that our furniture manufacturers have “ scotched “ the importation’s-
– No. They fluctuate a great deal.
– The increase in our importations of furniture has not been proportionate to our increase in population. Last year the total value of the importations of wickerwork furniture into the Commonwealth was less than ,£25,000. The honorable, member for Bendigo talked about our importations from Japan and China. I invite his attention to the fact that the furniture used in Australia represents more than 1^2,500,000 annually, and that our total importations from Japan and the Straits Settlements were valued at only £10,000. The Government proposal is so absurd as not to merit serious consideration. For every pound’s worth of furniture imported from those countries we manufacture .£250 worth in Australia. Could any better proof be forthcoming that these, extraordinary duties are not required to protect the furniture industry from outside competition ?
– I should very much like to adhere to the duties scheduled in connexion with this item, namely, 40 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 30 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. But after listening to the exhaustive debate which has taken place, I feel that I shall be meeting the temper of the Committee if I propose to substitute for those duties 35 per cent, and 30 per cent, respectively.
– Will those rates also apply to the next two items ?
– I think so. Wicker furniture will be dealt with under item 304. Under the circumstances, I am compelled to accept lower rates than I should have liked to see imposed. If I thought that by prolonging the debate I could attain my desire, I should have no hesitation whatever in consenting to the House being called together immediately after Christmas for the purpose of completing the consideration of the Tariff. I do not think it is right that we should sacrifice duties merely for the purpose of securing an adjournment before Christmas. But I do not know that I can do any better than agree to the rates upon which the Committee have evidently determined. Consequently, I intend to move that the amendment be amended bv adding after the words”, ad val.,” the’ words “(General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.”
– - I ask the Treasurer to accept a duty which will be a little more reasonable. An hour ago I understood that the’ rates to be ‘proposed were 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.’ Whilst I was willing to agree to such a compromise I cannot see my way to support a duty of 35 ,per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 30 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
.- Do I understand that the next two items are to be dutiable at the same rates?
– I think that is a fair proposal.
– - Will item 301, which relates to chairs, be dutiable at the rates indicated by the Treasurer?
– It will. be.
– The Treasurer would have saved a lot of time if he had made that announcement an hour ago. But he seems to comprise the entire Ministry. He does just as he chooses, arid endeavours to unduly dominate honorable members. But he cannot dominate me. Under the circumstances, and simply with a view to saving time, I think that we might accept his proposals.
Amendment (Sir William Lyne’s) agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That after the words “ ad val.,” the words “ (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be added.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -
That after the words “ad val.,” the words “ (General Tariff), 30 per cent.,” be added.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the words “ad val.,” the words “ (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.,” be added.
– - I desire to move the insertion of the following new paragraph - 299A. Aseptic Hospital Furniture, including
Operating Tables, Trollies, Stretchers, and the like, free.
– The Committee have already decided that these articles shall be dutiable at 35 per cent.
– Oh, no. I do not intend to be bluffed in this matter. I gave notice of my amendment some time ago, and the articles enumerated in it are not specifically mentioned in this item.
– Will that include furniture for private hospitals ?
– It will include furniture for all hospitals.
.- I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment. I understood the Treasurer and a number of honorable members to say that they were unable to differentiate between furniture intended for hospitals and. furniture intended for other institutions. But I point out that the Government have already managed to devise a scheme for differentiating between articles. If honorable members will turn to item 426, they will find that the following articles are allowed to come in free -
Articles specially designed and imported for the use of the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb, when imported by governing bodies of public institutions having the care thereof.
I challenge the Government to deny that that item is a precedent for their adopting the amendment.
– But the articles have to be “ specially designed.”
– Why cannot we treat in the same way furniture specially designed for hospitals? Again, under item 413, no duty is imposed on -
Works of Art, being Statuary and Paintings, oil or water colours, framed or unframed, im ported for public institutions or purposes under departmental by-laws.
How will the Customs officers know that any water-colour paintings are going to public institutions? Why should not the requisites of hospitals, which are intended for the needy, the destitute, and the sick, be allowed to come in on the same conditions as water-colour paintings and other articles for public institutions? There is every justification for this amendment, which T hope the Committee will adopt. Probably ‘ the Treasurer has the numbers at his back, but I point out that the excuse about being unable to differentiate between articles will not hold water. It is absolutely hollow, as he knows.
– I think, that when the honorable member for Lang moved this amendment he must have forgotten the wording or the previous amendment, which includes every article of furniture which is made of wood or partly of wood, and is used in any building or premises including hospitals.
– On which the Committee has imposed a duty of 35 per cent., whereas I want this particular furniture made free.
– We have agreed to that duty.
– The previous amendment did not deal with aseptic hospital furniture, whereas my amendment does, and that makes all the difference.
– That furniture is not made of wood.
– I think it is made partly of wood.
– I think that the furniture to which the honorable member has referred comes under the designation of scientific furniture. However, we have dealt with hospital furniture.
– I hope that the Treasurer will not agree to the amendment. I intend to take the risk of being called unsympathetic if there is anything intended to be worked in that direction. I am prepared to allow my actions outside the House to show whether I am unsympathetic in the way which has been hinted at. No doubt this is a very good free-trade idea to get in the thin end of the wedge. The public of Australia contribute to the maintenance of the hospitals, and the patients have no greater desire to rest their bodies on imported furniture than have other people. I think that the hospitals might as well use the furniture which is made here, and therefore I hope that the Treasurer will not give way.
– I am of opinion that’ the amendment is not in order. The Committee has already passed an item which refers to furniture -
Furniture n.e.i., including any article of wood or partly of wood, wholly or partly made up or finished, and used in any building or premises, including hospitals.
If I were to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Lang, another honorable member could move to exempt other special furniture, and we might be left with nothing but the original item “ Furniture n.e.i.”
– Before you give a definite ruling, sir, may I point out that in order to guard against the possibility of exception being taken on that score I was careful to put the word “ aseptic “ before the word “ furniture.” That kind of furniture has not yet been dealt with. It is totally different from all other descriptions ot furniture. It is specially manufactured for hospitals.
– I rule’ that the amendment is out of order.
Item,. as amended, agreed to.
Item 300. Lounges and Settees, each 10s., or ad val. 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ up to and’ including 4th December, 1907.”
I have submitted this amendment for the purpose of protecting the revenue. These articles will, of course, fall under the previous item.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 3or. Chairs, each 7s. 6d., or ad val. 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ up to and including 4th December, 1907.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 302 (Billiard Balls) agreed to.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
*N0T£. - Definition of a Superficial Foot. - A superficial foot of timber shall mean an area of one square foot on one surface, and being one inch or less in thickness.
– I want the Committee to strike out the asterisks after the expression “super, feet” wherever it occurs in this item. In the first instance, I move -
That the asterisk, paragraph a, be left out.
– I understand that the object of the honorable gentleman is to abolish the foot-note and that the effect will be that the mode hitherto adopted for measuring timber will be continued?
– Yes; I was going to give some details, but that will really be the effect of the amendment.
.- I wish to explain that this foot-note was introduced in order to secure a statutory definition of the term “ superficial feet.” It appears that in the various States, there was a conflict of definition. ‘The Customs authorities investigated the matter, but were unable to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. The Tariff Commission were asked to remove doubts by introducing a statutory definition, and we accepted one which was given to us in Queensland, and which was supported by a certain measure of authority. I was never very “sweet” on this definition. I have always thought that a superficial foot should mean an area of one square foot-on one square surface, and not less than 1 inch thick. I could never see the justice of charging as an inch that which was under an inch; but some of my colleagues thought that that was the true definition, and for the sake of having the point discussed by Parliament, I signed a report embodying that definition. Parliament is now afforded an opportunity to deal with the question. I .shall not regret the omission of the definition. I think it will remove a considerable cause of complaint and irritation, especially in connexion with dressed timber dutiable at 3s. per 100 superficial feet.
.- This question has been discussed a good deal in connexion with the old Tariff. “Undoubtedly, a number of timber workers have claimed that the real intention of the old Tariff was that whatever the thickness of a board might be, it should be charged duty as if it were an inch thick. It was contended, in various States, that if a board were a quarter of an inch thick, it should be treated as if it were an inch thick.
– That is the trade practice, anyhow.
– That is so; but the Crown Solicitor advised the Department that under the old Tariff, it had no authority to do. so. The idea of the Government in putting the asterisk in this line was to give them legal authority to charge for1 inch, whateverthe thickness of the plank. I think that the Treasurer might very well have stated the real reason why he desired to omit this definition.
– In some cases it would make the duty four times as much.
– There exists a difference of opinion as to how the duty should be charged. If this authority is not inserted, it means that if planks are1/8-in. thick eight of them will come in as1-inch timber. What the Committee want to keep clearly in mind is, that if they omit the asterisk with the accompanying footnote, we shall simply be declaring that everything will be charged up to the inch. If sixteen planks go to make an inch, then sixteen thicknesses will be charged as1-inch timber.
– It means that if we omit the definition the timber will be charged in proportion to its thickness.
– That is what it really means. A great deal of evidence was given before the Royal Commission. The Treasurer might very well explain the farreaching consequences of the amendment which he has moved. Some people thought that authority existed under the old Tariff to charge as the Customs have been charging during the time of the temporary collection of duties under the new Tariff. The Attorney-General and the Crown Law officers always advised that no power to charge in that way existed under the old Act.
– I desire to know whether I shall be in order if the Treasurer’s amendment is carried in moving another amendment to the effect that oregon and New Zealand pine be added after the word “undressed”?
– Does the honorable member desire to make them free ?
– The honorable member would not be entitled to go back.
– In view of that information from the Chair, I take it that the Minister will be prepared to withdraw his amendment for the time being.
– Perhaps in view of the speech of the honorable member for Wide Bay, I had better carry out my first intention, and give the Committee some details as to the method that will be adopted regarding measurements. I thought the Committee would be satisfied after what I said in reply to the interjection of the honorable member for Flinders, and that it would be sufficient to simply say that the old system would be reverted to as far as measurements are concerned.
– I think there was a difference of opinion, and the Crown Law officers gave their view.
– The method is as follows -
In the timber trade “ superficial foot “ means timber measuring 12 inches long by 12 inches wide by 1 inch thick. A piece of timber measuring 12 x 12 x1/2 measures in the trade half a superficial foot. In other words, the timber trade, in selling timber by the superficial foot, measures it on its actual thickness. The provision in the Tariff as recommended by the Commission, however, directs that when timber has a thickness of less than 1 inch, the thickness shall be taken as 1 inch for purposes of duty.
E.G.- A piece of timber measuring 12 x 12 x1/2, which in the trade is sold as half a superficial foot, is regarded for purposes of duty as being 1 superficial foot. If it is desired to revert to the practice under the old Tariff (which was the same as the trade practice mentioned), it is only necessary to strike out the asterisks wherever they appear against “ super foot,” and delete the footnote.
That is a description which I put on record with a view of showing what I am proposing. By removing the asterisk we revert to the old system of measuring, instead of slicing the timber, so to speak, into so many small thicknesses. I think that honorable members will be satisfied with that explanation, which shows the bona fides of what we are proposing.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That after the word “ undressed,” paragraph A, the words “oregon and New Zealand pine” be inserted.
– Why confine it to Oregon and New Zealand pine? What about yellow pine and other varieties?
– I shall raise no objection to the addition of yellow pine and other varieties, but, for the moment, I am confining myself to Oregon and New Zealand pine. The reason why I move that these timbers be admitted free in these sizes is because they are timbers which are used very extensively in the Broken Hill mines. I will confine myself to the case as it affects those mines, leaving other honorable members to speak on behalf of their constituencies. It is absolutely necessary for the safety of the mines at Broken Hill that a large amount of Oregon timber should be used. In the first place, it is used on account of its lightness ; secondly, on account of its cost ; and also because we are informed by the mine managers and by the men who work in the mines thatOregon timber gives notice by creaking when some portions of the mines are, as they say, “ coming together.”
– It is also much lighter to handle.
– It is, and consequently it is very advantageous to use it in some portions of the mines. But the great advantage, apart from that, is that it does not snap off suddenly, as hardwood does, but gives the men notice by creaking. To use a term that is employed at the Hill, “ it talks,’-‘ and the men in the stopes have ample notice before a collapse takes place.
– Would the companies refuse to use it if the duty were made higher?
– No; in certain portions of the mines Oregon timber must be used, irrespective of the duty. Even if the duty were considerably higher than the is. 6d. proposed, it would have to be used.
– What about ja’rrah ?
– In the first place, it is too costly a timber, and, in the second place, it does not offer the advantage that I have referred to in the case of Oregon. I will give a few figures as to the added cost that this duty means to the mines at Broken Hill. As far as the Broken Hill Proprietary Mine is concerned, the duty will mean an increase of ,£4,000 a year. Under the old Tariff £[2,000 per annum was paid. The new duty would mean an added cost of ,£4,000, making the total duty ,£6,000 in that mine alone. In the Broken Hill South Mine the duty would mean an added cost of ,£1,653; U1 Broken Hill Block 10 an increase of £[846 ; in the British Broken Hill an increase of £620; in Broken Hill Block 14, .£300; in junction North, .£320; in. South Blocks, £245; to the Sulphide Corporation, ,£2,687 J m North Broken Hill, ,£2,200. That means a total of ,£12,871 in added cost for the mines which I have mentioned. Then there are a number of smaller mines, whose expenses in connexion with timber have been increased by the duties by, say, £[3,000, making the extra taxation of the Broken Hill mining industry in respect of timber duties alone, over ,£15,000. Besides Oregon, a great deal of stringy bark is used in the mines, over 500,000 superficial feet being needed in a year for lining. A small quantity of South Australian timber is used, but its use is limited because of its weight, and the consequent cost of freight and handling.
– Is Oregon used in the round ?
– No; in the square.
– It is put in in sets, roughly squared.
– Yes. In connexion with the big wide lodes which occur at Broken Hill - some of them 300 feet wide - square sets of timber have to be used. Some of the mines which I have mentioned pay handsome dividends, and perhaps could afford to contribute more largely to the revenue; but it must be remembered that the extra duties will have to be paid by all mines, both those which are being worked at a profit, and those which are not.
– That is the strongest point which the honorable member has made.
– I think the strongest point which I have made is that oregon timber is required to insure the safety of the men working in the mines. Some of the Broken Hill mines are not very profitable at the present time. Only recently it was stated that the Junction mine, which has been employing a good many men, is likely to be closed down, except for some exploration work. No doubt, the main reason for closing that mine is the fall in the ‘price of lead, but another reason’ is the fact that it is now more costly to carry on mining operations than it was before the new Tariff was imposed. Whatever our fiscal faith may be, we must acknowledge that duties when first imposed make commodities dearer. No industry has been more heavily penalized by the Tariff than the mining industry, which has had to carry the baby all along. Nothing has been done for the benefit of that industry.
– Have not the machinery duties been reduced to almost nothing?
– If the honorable Member was importing machinery, he would not say that to pay £30 or £35 on every £100 worth was nothing. The machinery^ duties were imposed to benefit, not the mining industry, but the engineering trade. I do not say that -our engineers and artizans should not receive assistance ; but I feel bound to point out that this Parliament has done, and can do nothing, directly for the benefit of the miner, although, to assist other people, he is being taxed on everything he uses. I trust that an unduly heavy tax will not be placed on the timber that is necessary for the safety of mining operations. Not only do the miners desire to obtain undressed timber free, but, according to a paper which I have received from the Melbourne Timber Merchants’ Association and the Federated Saw-mills Employes’ Association, the employers and employes connected with the timber trade ask that oregon timber, 12 x 7, and larger sizes, be admitted duty free.
– Those connected with the timber industry ask for higher duties on other timber.
– We must Heal with that request when we come to the item which it concerns. While I may not be prepared to vote for the rates asked for, I shall, if the Government gives reasonable and fair treatment to undressed timber, deal in like fashion with dressed timber.
– Is dressed timber used at Broken Hill ?
– Not underground, though a great deal is used for house building and other purposes. There is a large saw-mill at Broken Hill for the dressing of timber, which employs a number of men and does a great deal of work.
– The honorable member proposes that the rich companies shall get their timber free, and that the poor men who live in cottages shall pay duty.
– I do not desire that the rich companies shall escape their fair share of taxation, but if a duty is imposed on undressed timber, a still higher duty will be imposed on dressed timber. The cheaper the production of ore, the more the employment that will be given. It is better to have a dozen mines working than to have only two or three, because, when there is a great demand for men, wages are higher than when men have to run after the mining managers to get employment. I. ask, too, that New Zealand pine for the manufacture of butter boxes be admitted duty free, though I shall leave it to other honorable members to speak at length on this subject. In the last Parliament we did not act fairly in allowing New Zealand pine to come in free and taxing oregon for mining purposes. The butter export trade is a big one which we all would like to see grow, and those connected with the butter industry should be able to get the best and most suitable timber for making butter boxes. But, at the same time, an industry which employs a great many more persons, pays better wages, and has a much more valuable export trade, should be allowed to get its raw materials as cheaply as possible. However, if I were to speak for a considerable time I should probably not alter a vote, and, therefore, having put my case before the Committee, I hope that honorable members will allow this timber to come in free.
– I suggest that this would be a convenient time to report progress. We have had two long nights and three long days this week. I venture to say that if the honorable member permitted us to get a good night’s sleep, it would tend to facilitate, rather than to retard business. I promise him that he will not lose anything by acceding to my request. We all recognise the necessity of pushing on with the Tariff, and it will tend to facilitate business if we adjourn to-night at a reasonably early hour.
– I am quite agreeable to progress being now reported, for I admit that the two long sittings that we have had this week have been rather exhausting.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until n a.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 December 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071204_reps_3_42/>.