3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MALONEY presented a petition from persons engaged in the retail furniture trade praying the House to reduce the duty on chairs.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question, without notice, and in order to do so it is necessary that I should first read a letter I have received from two honorable members of the State Parliament of Tasmania. The letter is to the following effect -
We desire to bring before you an injustice of considerable magnitude to a large number of officials in our local post-office. There are less hands employed now than there were four years ago, although the business has so greatly increased that one man is doing two men’s work, for which no extra remuneration is received. Some officers begin work at 6.45 a.m. and work on until 8.30 p.m., with short intermissions for breakfast, dinner, and tea, and only receive an annual salary of£126 a year, which no honest man would consider a square deal.
– What post-office is referred to?
– The postoffice at Zeehan.
– They do get extra pay.
– The letter continues -
Another matter for serious complaint is that, although the postal employes have been promised a climatic allowance of 10 per cent., up to date, they have not received one cent.
– Climatic allowances for Tasmania !
– Yes; on the west coast of Tasmania, where there is a rainfall of from 12 to 20 feet a year. The letter is signed by Mr. J. Earl and Mr. J. E. Ogden. I ask the Postmaster-General if he will look into this matter?
– The Post Office is the most sweated institution in the Commonwealth.
– The statement of the honorable member for Lang is not correct. In so far as wrongs exist in connexion with the Department in Tasmania, and I can right them, they will be righted. The granting of the climatic allowance is a mat- ‘ ter with which the Public Service Commissioner is charged, and the responsibility is his if that matter has not been attended to.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs without notice, whether he is now prepared to make any statement in regard to a matter which I have brought under his attention on several occasions, namely, the proposal to allow a rebate on butter boxes and fruit cases of the duty paid on the timber used in their manufacture.
– The timber of which they are made is free of duty in the log.
– The matter referred to by the honorable member for Flinders has had considerable attention because it was feared that if the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, which the Government adopted, to give a rebate on the timber used in butter boxes and fruit cases were carried out, it was extremely likely that the rebate might get into the wrong pockets. Consequently, I have, with the Treasurer, been giving considerable attention to the matter. My honorable colleague intends to make a statement on the question to-day, and we propose that timber used for the manufacture of butter boxes should be admitted free.
– And not for fruit cases ?
– No; it is contended that we have plenty of local timber from which fruit cases can easily be made.
– Is not the Minister aware that New Zealand pine, from which butter boxes are made, is at the present time admitted free in the log?
– There is a great deal of timber imported, and used for butter boxes and fruit cases, which, as the honorable member for Wide Bay must be aware, is not free of duty. As I have said, the Treasurer intends to make a statement on the subject.
– Following up the question asked by the honorable member for Flinders, I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he is not aware that, under item 303 of the Tariff submitted by the Government, of which he is a member, all log timber is free, including New Zealand white pine, from which butter boxes are made?
– Log timber; yes.
– What more do honorable members want?
– I am well aware that log timber is free, but I again remind the honorable member forWide Bay that other timber imported and used in the manufacture of butter boxes and fruit cases is not free, and that is the timber to which the honorable member for Flinders referred.
– Honorable members are fine protectionists when they are willing that this timber should be prepared abroad.
– As I understand that the time has now expired within which manufacturers of agricultural machinery were to reply to the notices requiring them to furnish security for the payment of Excise, or the granting of reasonable conditions to their workmen, I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, how many manufacturers have replied, what action he intends to take with respect to those who have not done so, and when he proposes to take action?
– In reply to the honorable member, I have to say that the time has not yet expired. Instructions were given to give the manufacturers fourteen days’ notice. Of course, it took some little time for the instructions to reach the Collectors, and for the Collectors to get the notices out. Immediately the time expires I shall inform the House as to the result, and it is the intention of the Government to see that their proposals in this connexion are carried out.
– It would be well if we had the information before harvesters are dealt with.
– The Government cannot give the information to the House until the fourteen days’ notice has expired. On the expiry of the notice the whole of the information will be made available to honorable members.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister the following questions, without notice -
– Answering the honorable member’s last question first, I would say that a proposition has already been submitted by us more than once to the States Governments in a general way, and, so far, has not been accepted. So far as we are aware, nothing has been done, and I am certain nothing is likely to be done in the way of exactly duplicating any advertisement which they are already supplying, although we have to see that the advertisements apply to Australia, and not merely to a particular part of it.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the complaint from New South Wales regarding overlapping relates to a map of Australia which is being prepared by the Commonwealth Government, the allegation being that a similar map has been prepared by the State Government, and is at present being exhibited in the schools and other places of public instruction in the Old Country ?
– I have seen that statement, but have not seen any such map, nor have I heard of its being exhibited in the Mother Country. Both statements may be true, but it is at least unfortunate that we are not supplied with copies of these documents. In any case, that work has not yet been duplicated.
Mr.POYNTON.- I wish to ask the
Prime Minister whether he intends to make arrangements to enable Commonwealth officers entitled to increments to receive them before Christmas, in view of the fact that the Estimates have not vet been dealt with ?
– I do not know that I ought to give an undertaking that the increments will be paid before Christmas, but will consult with my honorable colleague, the Treasurer, and will give a more definite reply later.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question, without notice. I have here a publication called Elder’s Weekly. Review. It contains twenty-eight pages and a cover, but less than one page of ordinary reading matter, and yet it is registered for transmission through the post as a newspaper. I wish to ask the honorable member whether he thinks that is in accordance with the regulations, and that the revenue is being sufficiently protected when such a publication is carried at newspaper rates by his Department ?
– I will have the matterinquired into. These publications are all submitted to the Crown Solicitor before they are registered.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the wages and hours of labour in the distillery trade are satisfactory, and, if not, whether Excise is being collected.
– Replies and information have been received from nearly all the distillers. We find that most of them are paying fair and reasonable wages - in fact, up to the scale that we have laid down. In the case of those who say that they are unable or unwilling to pay the fair and reasonable wages specified, the proper course will be taken. They will be required to pay either the proper wages or Excise. There are only one or two small cases in which the employers have given special reasons for not paying the specified wages, but we have replied that they must pay the wages, or the payment of Excise will be insisted on.
– Will the Minister, make available to honorable members and to the public the replies of the distillers, showing the rates of wages and hours of labour which the Minister considers are satisfactory, in order that they may be tested ?
– The scale of wages fixed by the Department has already been made public. I understand that very great satisfaction has been expressed with it by all concerned. As a matter of fact, I have had letters of thanks from . some of the employes. I take it that what the honorablemember desires to know is the names of those who are paying those rates of wages. I shall certainly be glad to give that information. So far, the results have been very satisfactory indeed, but in those isolated cases where the wages have not been paid we are now making every effort to see that they are paid.
– I notice in yesterday’s Age an announcement by the PostmasterGeneral that it is intended to acquire some land on which to erect a building for parcels post business near the railway station. I desire to ask the Minister if the House will have an opportunity of considering the wisdom of that policy before it is put into effect, because it would cause a great deal of additional expense, and the accommodation could be provided at the existing post office.
– It is my intention to ask the House to vote on the next Estimates provision for parcels post offices, both in Sydney and Melbourne, as near the central railway stations as possible, with receiving offices in the centre of the city.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral yet received the ^25,000 due on the bond of Messrs. James Laing and Co. in the matter of the defunct mail contract?
– Final instructions have been sent to London, and the matter is being dealt with.
– When were those final instructions sent to London ?
– I think they were sent immediately after the recent contract was consummated.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that probably the bulk of the bounty to be voted under the Manufactures Encouragement Bill will go to the Lithgow Iron Works, whether he will cause to be laid upon .the table of the House a return showing the extent to which, and trie various ways in which that company has been subsidized by the New South Wales Government? Mr. DEAKIN. - I by no means admit that the enterprise at Lithgow- will be the only iron enterprise affected by that measure. On the contrary, the Bill will be presented in sucha way, and, if necessary, can be added to, so as to encourage the development of the iron resources of the Commonwealth elsewhere. But the honorable member is entitled to have his question as to Lithgow answered, if he conceives it to be material. I have no doubt that my colleague will supply all the information the honorable member requires.
– May I suggest that when the Prime Minister is securing the information asked for concerning the Lithgow Iron Works, he should at the same time obtain similar information concerning the Victorian coal mines, and their relation to the Victorian State Government?
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following answers have been furnished by the Public Service Commissioner : -
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 4th December, vide page 7024) :
Division X. - Wood, Wicker, and Cane.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes of 12 in. by 6 in. (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super feet*,1s. 6d.
*Note. - 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.
Upon which Mr. Thomas had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “ undressed “ the words “ Oregon and New Zealand pine” be inserted.
There is evidently a good deal of misunderstanding about these duties. The Minister of Trade and Customs talks of giving a rebate on timber which under this Tariff is absolutely free. I do not know what more honorable members would like.
– The log timber is free.
– What more is required? I could understand any but a protectionist Government asking that the timber should be cut up elsewhere before it is imported to Australia.
– Does the honorable member think that logs can be cut here into case timber economically?
– To say that we cannot cut them in Australia is a reflection on this country, because they must be cut somewhere.
– It is commercially impossible, because the best timber in the log is not used for cases.
– I could not get a better illustration of the want of knowledge existing on the question than the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, because if the logs were brought in here and were all cut up here, not only would the best timber be picked out for butter boxes, but the inferior timber, which is ordinarily good enough for fruit cases, would be available on the spot for the fruit-growers at a much cheaper rate than it is now.
– By that means we should pay the freight and charges on all the waste.
– But there would be no duty. Surely the importer has to pay the ordinary freight on any goods imported? Why should he not do so on timber as well as on anything else? As a matter of fact, there has been a great deal of outcry regarding this timber, largely because soft timber is grown in Australia in only one State.
– That is not so.
– It is largely so. In the northern part of New South Wales a considerable amount of soft timber - and very good timber too - is grown. The Queensland people are neither afraid nor ashamed to take their supplies from New South Wales, but it would be only fair if there were some reciprocity on the part of that and other States.
– Queensland cannot supply the demand.
– If so, what more can be desired than to have the raw material admitted duty free ? It is of no use arguing this question at great length; the main point, in a protectionist Chamber, is whether it is desired, not only to have the raw material admitted free, but also the prepared material, with a drawback. The proposal of the honorable member for Barrier is clever and double barrelled ; and no doubt he has a strong case, especially in regard to the timber required for the Broken Hill mine. We are told that Oregon is the best for that purpose, but I do not know that it is better than hardwood, except for the expense connected with the latter.
– What about the Mount Morgan mine?
– The Mount Morgan mine is bigger than any mine at Broken Hill.
– Mount Morgan is an open quarry !
– That is not so.
– I have myself been down Mount Morgan for 700 feet.
– I speak from personal knowledge, and I am supported by the honorable member for Newcastle. When the old Tariff was under discussion this question was argued at great length, and I then proved conclusively that at Mount Morgan, where hardwood is used, there has never been a case in yielding timber of loss of life.
– There is no weight for the timber to carry at Mount Morgan.
– And what is the timber bill at Mount Morgan?
– The honorable member is shifting hisground.
– In the whole of the Tasmanian mines Australian timber is used.
– Honorable members will observe that interjection by the honorable member for Franklin. I do not dispute the statement that Oregon timber suits the mines at Broken Hill.
– That timber has caused some very disastrous fires.
– That may be, but I am not here to dictate to the Broken Hill mineowners what timber they shall use; that is a matter for themselves. My business just now is to refute the arguments put forward by the honorable member for Barrier, quite apart from any reference to the use of oregon timber at Broken Hill. The honorable member told us that the mining industry has been hard hit by this Tariff. But, supposing that be true, what may not. be said as to the timber-getters ? Those who produce the timber are also taxed heavily by means of this Tariff. Are not their waggons and other tools of trade subject to heavy duties? The difficulties of the timber-getters are quite as great as are those of the miners, because both are pioneers. The honorable member for Barrier has proposed that log timber from every part of the world shall be admitted free, and, further, that partially dressed timber shall also be free.
– Is all log timber free now ?
– Yes; and alwayshas been. When the Tariff was introduced I drew attentionto the fact ; and I feel sure that honorable members are under an entire misapprehension in regard to this item. A circular has been sent to honorable members from the Melbourne and Suburbs Timber Merchants’ Association, and the Federated Sawmill and Timber Yard and General Woodworkers’ and Employes’ Association suggesting certain duties. One of these suggestions is that this particular item shall be free. Why ? In every other instance these bodies suggest higher duties.
– I think the honorable member is wrong in his reading of the circular.
– It is suggested in the circular that Oregon, 12 x 6 and over, shall be free.
– But it is suggested that other classes of timber shall also be free.
– Quiteso; and could anything be more selfish?
– I am not supporting the suggestion, but merely pointing out the facts.
– These people suggest that the timber on which they can make any profit shall be free, but that those concerned in the manipulation of other timber shall face the free competition of the world. Why should the Government, especially a protectionist Government, desire to have this timber prepared outside the country ? If this proposal be carried, we shall next have it suggested that a bonus shall be paid on imported timber. That there is misapprehension in this connexion is shown by the fact that the honorable member for Flinders has just asked the Minister of Trade and Customs “when a drawback is to be allowed on an article that is not dutiable. I trust that there will be some closer examination into the motives which underlie the proposal to have this particular item admitted duty free. I shall not deal with every item mentioned in the circular, but in nearly all instances a duty is suggested on the smaller sizes of timber. If we have protection, let us have protection all round, and, more especially, give some attention to the pioneer, who is doing so much to open up the country. I suggest to the honorable member for Barrier that New Zealand pine should be excluded from his proposal. The two timbers mentioned in his amendment are not alike, and in regard to New Zealand white pine the honorable member cannot urge that duty is charged upon the logs.
– But the freight upon the logs would be from 66. to is. more per hundred superficial feet.
– The honorable member takes refuge in the statement that logs cannot be carried so cheaply as can prepared timber.
– Upon the same line of reasoning, one might argue that no raw material whatever should be imported, on the ground that the freight charges- would be heavier than it would be in the case of the finished article.
– Dressed timber requires more handling.
– I venture to say that timber in its dressed state can be handled a great deal easier than it can in the rough, in addition to which it can be packed a great deal better. So that if the freight upon log timber is 6d. per hundred superficial feet more than is charged upon dressed timber, the importers of the former enjoy other compensating advantages. For instance, there is the cost of cutting the logs to be considered.
– That would amount to is. 6d. per hundred superficial feet.
– The dairying industry already enjoys, the advantage of getting log timber admitted free. What more does it require? I thoroughly sympathize with the idea that it should be permitted to obtain the timber which it requires as cheaply as possible. As a matter of fact, I was the first honorable member to suggest that a drawback should be allowed upon timber exported in the form of butter boxes. Of course, I am referring to the period when the first Commonwealth Tariff was submitted to this House. The charge which was then preferred against Queensland timber was that it was unsuitable for the manufacture of butter boxes. That charge has now been entirely abandoned, because the proof to the contrary has been overwhelming.
– Men who desire that timber for butter-box purposes have unfulfilled orders extending over two years.
– I am not prepared to say that at the present moment we can’ supply all the timber for butter boxes that is required. I merely affirm that as log timber is admitted free, it is only fair that the duty levied under paragraph a should be retained. Upon that point I hope that the Treasurer will remain firm.
– Importers will not import log timber.
– Then they must ha.ve a good reason for refusing to do so. If they can import timber in this way, and obtain a drawback upon it-
– That proposal isbased upon the recommendation of the A section of the Tariff Commission.
– I would remind the Treasurer that upon the very day that this Tariff was introduced I asked him whether the proposal to admit log timber free was fair to the timber-getters. At that time I did not think that the Government proposal, in respect of paragraph a, would be seriously attacked. But the honorable member for Barrier has moved a doublebarrelled and subtle amendment, on the plea that the Broken Hill mining- companies require oregon timber, and that dairymen must have timber for their butter boxes. He discreetly omitted to mention that the raw material of these industries was admitted free. His amendment strikes a blow at the protective policy of the Government, inasmuch as if it be carried it will prevent a certain amount of work being provided in the Commonwealth. It is strange, therefore, that Melbourne protectionists should be found supporting the admission free of the timber specified in paragraph a. Apparently they want the logs to be sawn into convenient sizes in other parts of the world, and admitted free. There is not a spark of honesty in that proposal from a protectionist point of view. This Parliament is meeting in Melbourne - in a centre where influence can be brought to bear upon honorable members in a way that it cannot be exerted by persons located in the more remote portions of the Commonwealth. To us in Queensland this question is important, but it is not so important as to tempt me to ask a favour from any honorable member. We shall survive, I have no doubt, any unjust treatment we may receive. I fearlessly assert that if a timber industry of the sort we are considering were distributed through the States such. a proposal as has been made here to-day would not be listened to.
– The honorable member must not take it for granted that the Government are going to support the proposal.
– I am making no charge against the Government.
– I understood that the honorable member was.
– No; but at the same time I am submitting the matter seriously to the Government. I know that there has been an attempt made to effect an arrangement, but I hope that the duty will’ stand. In my opinion the timber duties are reasonable. I have nothing to do with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. I do not take such serious notice of all their recommendations as do some honorable members. As regards the timber for fruit cases, if it does cost 6d. more per 100 superficial feet to import the timber in the log than it would cost to import large squared timber, ‘ I contend that the fruit-growers would benefit, because in ordinary circumstances the scantlings are good enough to be cut up for the purpose of making fruit cases. If logs can be sawn and made into butter boxes here, surely logs can be sawn and the scantlings used for making cheaper fruit cases ? That information is not given to the Committee.
– That is a small consolation to the fruit-grower, because in the meantime he is paying on each case an extra 2d., and in some instances 3d.
– Why is he called upon to make that payment? It is simply because there is not available any scantling timber out of which to make fruit cases. According to the terms’ of the petition, the saw-millers want the duties to be so arranged that they may be able to import only high-class timber. I hope that the Treasurer will not support a proposal of that kind. I suggest to the honorable member for Barrier that he should omit from his amendment the words “ and New Zealand pine,” so that we may be able to secure a fair vote on the question of admitting logs.
– The honorable member wants to divide and conquer.
– No; I want to get an opportunity to take a fair vote. If, however, the honorable member for Barrier - and there is no more astute general than himself in a case of this kind - will not accede to my suggestion, I shall be compelled to move an amendment to his proposal, which is double-barrelled and submitted with the intention of securing the support of the representatives of the dairying industry, which is not affected, the fruit industry, and the mining industry. On the plea that the miners deserve special consideration it cannot be justified any more than it can be justified in the interests of the timber-getters, who are hit quite as hard, and who are entitled to any little modicum of protection which can be given under the Tariff.
– There are many other interests besides those of the miners to be considered.
– This is a, native industry in at least two of the States. It is a very proper industry for the Parliament to’ assist. The timber-getter goes out into the most difficult parts of Australia and, speaking generally, he is the pioneer of agriculture. If we can do anything to assist him surely we should do so; especially in such a small way as is now proposed.
– There are more accidents in the mines in one week than there are in the forests in one year.
– Speaking off-hand, I have no hesitation in saying that the honorable member is in error. There are more men killed, and more men injured in timbergetting than in mining.
– Not proportionately.
– I do not know that the mining industry is more dangerous to life than is timber-getting. I have had some experience of mining. I have also cut down a tree or two. I am acquainted with the conditions of both industries, and I recognise that those who are engaged in them are entitled to the greatest sympathy in respect of the nature of their occupations. I wish that we had a method of preventing acicdents of any kind. But I do not know that a duty of 6d. more or 6d. less per 100 superficial feet on the timber will greatly affect that phase of the question. In the Parliament of 1902, New Zealand pine was made free by one vote, and the honorable member for Mernda has explained that through a mistake he voted on the wrong side. I am not going to challenge his statement. Clearly, the intention of that Parliament was that New Zealand pine should not be made free. That is a statement which cannot be controverted. I trust that the present Parliament; which, unlike the first Parliament, was elected on a protectionist basis, will not do an injustice to the timber getters in the several States, who are endeavouring to supply an indispensable cornmodity.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has based almost the whole of his argument on the fact that logs are admitted free. He has stated that, even if a considerable duty is imposed on the timber of which butter boxes and fruit cases are made, there is no necessity for any allowance of a drawback, because the makers of those boxes have the opportunity of importing the timber in the log, which is not dutiable. On its face, that looks a fair argument, but I point out to the honorable member that, although logs are free under this Tariff, and have been free for the last five years, and there has been a duty on different sizes of timber cut from the log, yet logs have not been generally imported, for the simple reason that it does not pay any one to import them.
– It ought to pay them.
– I shall explain to the Minister why it does not.
– If they do not get a rebate, they will bring in the logs right enough.
– They will not.
– They import New Zealand logs.
– Well, all the kauri timber comes to us in logs.
– The honorable member will find that he is wrong.
– The greater part of the kauri comes to Tasmania in logs.
– It comes to Hobart in logs.
– I will get the figures looked up to see what the importation of logs amounts to. The fact is that logs are more costly to handle. They cost more per 100 feet in freightage, and when a man is bringing them in, he is bringing in at a high cost of freight - 2s. 3d. or 2s. 6d. or more per 100 feet- a great deal of waste.
– Thereis not much
– What nonsense ! The honorable gentleman need not tell me that there is not much waste, because I have had some experience in this business.
– They utilize almost every bit.
Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- No; there is a great deal of waste with the log, and all that has to be paid for. But we have the plain fact before us that the logs have not been imported, except for some few special purposes, and in small numbers, although we have had the other duties in operation. If there were a saving to the extent of the smallest fraction, the logs would be imported. They are not imported, because it costs more to turn out timber from the log than it does to pay the duty on the smaller sizes.
– If the Government proposed to do the same in regard to timber as they did in regard to marble, they would impose a duty on sawdust and chips.
– Yes. That is a remarkable sort of protection, surely. The best evidence of all is that keen business men, anxious to make every penny they can, have not, under the old Tariff, imported the logs except for a few special purposes, although they have imported the cut-up timber.
– Flitches were free, too, under the old Tariff.
– Not in all timbers.
– In the case of New Zealand pine.
– I am speaking of the other timbers that were not free.
– An export duty has to be paid on the logs in New Zealand, so that the importers do not save in that War-
– Yes; and they threaten to put a higher export duty on. The fact that keen business men have continued to import the sawn timber shows the uselessness of contending that they can profitably import logs.
– Then they have sacrificed the fruit-growers for the sake of id. or 2d. a box.
– If they could save id. or 2d. per box by importing the logs they would do so, but it is because thev would lose money by importing logs that they have imported the sawn timber and have had to charge more to the fruitgrowers for their boxes. If we could by any means compel the timber merchants to bring in the logs, and cut them into timber for fruit cases, the cost to the fruitgrower would still be greater than it is.
– We should have cheaper fruit boxes.
– lt is perfectly evident that if people now handling timber are paying duties on sawn timber rather than import the logs, if we were to compel them to import the logs, we should simply force an extra charge on to the users of the products.
– Logs were brought in last year to the extent of 1,133,329 superficial feet.
– But look at the trifle that is in comparison with the total imports, which run into many more millions. I think they run up to over 220,000,000 feet super. The honorable member for Wide Bay said, quite truly, that this is a protectionist Parliament. He argued, “ Let us have protection all round.” Well, the old Tariff was protective in the case of timber. But it is pro. posed now to go to a. much greater length, and to impose duties on timbers that we especially left free in our own interest when the last Tariff was dealt with.
– Yes; by a mistaken vote.
– I can only go by the votes recorded. Let honorable members recollect into how many industries timber enters. It affects our constructive industries, the erection of buildings and bridges, and the homes of the poorer classes.
– Do not white ants eat New Zealand timber?
– This duty would not prevent white ants from eating it.
– It would be very much better to use other timber.
– What other ?
– Colonial pine.
– If the Treasurer refers to Queensland pine, I point out that only a small quantity of it is available. We are not dealing with a duty to prevent white ants from eating timber. They will eat nearly all kinds of timber. New Zealand pine is a timber of the utmost importance in many industries. It enters into the making of furniture, agricultural machinery, and a host of other industries. It affects the fruit trade and the butter industry. Surely we should pause before we place those trades at a disadvantage for no real advantage to any one else.
– Does the honorable member say that there is no timber available in North Queensland?
– Of course there is plenty of timber in Queensland.
– Why not compel people to use that instead of New Zealand pine?
– There is an enormous demand for Queensland timber.’ The demand is so great that they cannot execute orders, and are refusing many.
– They are even refusing to quote prices.
– They are, as I can show from the evidence given before the Commission. Yet they come clown here, and want us to penalize other industries by putting a duty on 70,600,000 fe«” super, of timber, affecting nearly every industry in the Commonwealth. I also point out that when, in connexion with the last Tariff, we were asked to put on a duty of is. per 100 feet, at the request of Queensland, the proposal was defeated. Queensland pine was then selling at 1.6s. 6d. Today it is in demand, and cannot be supplied at 21s. 6d. per 100 feet.
– That seems high, but timber has gone up all over the world.
-Then there is no need to complain and to demand a protective duty. The price of this class of timber all over the world is increasing, and the value of our supplies every year is going up. When this timber was selling at 16s. 6d., a duty of is., which would have given our saw-millers an opportunity to secure only another is. per 100 feet, was asked for. Since then they have been obtaining more than is. increase, and to-day they cannot book orders at 21s. 6d. That being so, their whole case falls to the ground. We are asked to impose duties on imported timbers used in the manufacture of butterboxes, fruit-boxes, and furniture, in order to assist an industry that is so flourishing that it cannot book orders for long periods ahead at 5s. per 100 feet in excess of the price which prevailed in 1902.
– Who refuses to book such orders?
-The Melbourne and other agents for the Queensland companies. This demand is not justified j it would not benefit the industry to the extent of one farthing. I would remind honorable member that this question relates not only to Queensland, but to New South Wales, since a good deal of the timber now under consideration comes from the Mother State. It is stated that something like 6,000,000 feet of timber from New South Wales was imported in one year into Queensland.
– That shows our Federal spirit.
– It shows that Queensland merchants are anxious to make money. I have sufficient information to justify the statement - although I can>not vouch for its absolute accuracy - that Queensland is importing from New South Wales more hoop or- other pine than she is exporting. «
– That must be a gross mistake.
– It may be a mistake as to the quantity, but it cannot be denied that steamers have been running to Brisbane carrying cargoes of timber from New South Wales. Queensland has also been importing’ from New Zealand white pine for butter boxes.
– A Minister of the Crown, who changes his politics as often as the sun rises, has been doing so.
– Queenslanders are only just! discovering that the local pine is as good as any other, and the importation of New Zealand pine is gradually being dropped.
– It has taken them a long time to make that discovery. Other States found it out long ago.
– I was referring to the use of Queensland pine for butter boxes.
– Queensland pine has been used in that State for the last eight or ten years for making butter boxes.
– But there has been a certain prejudice against it.
– I do not think that the prejudice now exists, so that it cannot be advanced as a reason for the present importation of New Zealand pine into Queensland. With all goodwill towards Queensland and New South Wales, we ought to hesitate before we handicap other industries by imposing a duty on 70,000,000 feet of New Zealand timber, for the sake of Queensland’s export of 4,500.000 feet to other States, seeing that she is absolutely unable to supply further orders, although highly profitable prices are offering. Queensland and New South Wales timbers enjoy some advantage over New Zealand pine since the wharfage at Melbourne is 5d. per 100 feet, and in Sydney 3d. per 100 feet, less than it is in the case of New Zealand pine. This duty will increase the price of fruit cases by 1 1/4d. each, and butter boxes by 2 1/2d. each.
– That is assuming that those concerned will not import this timber in the log.
– If they did, the cost would be greater.
– ‘No fear.
– I do not speak without some practical knowledge, and the honorable member, on consulting an expert, will find that my statement is absolutely borne out.
– It is estimated that there would be an increase pf 50 per cent, in the cost if this timber were imported in the log.
– I am not” prepared to say that the difference would be so great, but I know that there would be an increase. I am surprised’ that the honorable member for Wide Bay, with his natural alertness of mind, has not realized that men who are anxious to save every penny that they can would readily import this timber in the log if they knew that by doing so they would reduce the cost of their butter boxes and fruit cases. Timber, to which duties on sawn sizes relate, is not imported in the log, except for a few special purposes.
– I have known logs to be shipped from South America to the Old Country for twenty years.
– That is in cases where it does .not pay to treat them locally. The practice has been declining all over the world, because it is found to be unprofitable.
– Years ago people used to travel in coaches instead of in trains.
– Yes. Where the exporting country has up-to-date saw-mills, it does not pay to send away timber in the log. The honorable member for Barrier has shown that the use of Oregon at Broken Hill is advantageous, not so much because of its lowness of cost - though it is a cheap soft-wood timber - but because it gives warning of settlements in the mines. The prices of hardwood and Oregon show that there is no real competition between them on the score of cheapness. Hardwood is retailed in the Commonwealth at the present time for from 9s. to 10s. per 100 feet.
– Market sizes of hardwood cannot be obtained in Sydney for those prices.
– I am speaking of large sizes. Oregon, on the other hand, costs from 14s. 6d. to 17s. per 100 feet. I am able to vouch for these prices, because I took special care in getting them.
– The honorable member must be mistaken in his figures.
– No ; I can substantiate them fully. . The difference in price between local hardwood and
Oregon is so great that there is no competition between them on the score of cheapness. The question we have to consider c is, therefore : Shall we handicap our producing interests by increasing the price of butter boxes, fruit cases, furniture and building materials?
– According to the PostmasterGeneral, a duty does not increase prices.
– Admitting that Queensland has all the timber we need, her people at the present time cannot book all the orders ‘which they receive, and will not be able to largely increase their delivery for many years to come. But the New Zealand pine is becoming more costly, because it is harder to obtain as the forests near the water get cut out, and consequently each year will make the Queensland timber more valuable. The imposition of the proposed duty would be of no real advantage to Queensland. It is asked for merely on sentimental grounds.
– It was not sentiment that moved the Queensland Director of Forests to give evidence as to the quantity and quality of the timber of the State.
– The quantity and quality of the Queensland timber are not denied; but I say that the imposition of the proposed duty will not benefit the State. Queensland timber is now in demand at prices 5s1. higher than those ruling in. 1902, when a duty of is. was asked for. Although the PostmasterGeneral asserts that duties do” not increase prices, even he, notwithstanding his audacity in regard to fiscal matters, would not say that duties will not increase prices when the internal production does not amount to more than 4,500,000 feet, while the demand amounts to between 70,000,000 and 75,000,000 feet. The prices of Queensland timber were low in 1902 because in that year, owing to depression, there was very little local demand, and the value of the timber not having been proved in the other States, persons there were reluctant to buy it. Now, however, Queensland .is brisk and active, and the local demand for her timber is so great that it is with . difficulty that orders for export can be executed, and to-day timber merchants there will not book orders. I have a letter here which says that an order for about 120,000 feet took about thirteen months to deliver. I trust that honorable members will support the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier.
– He is always up to tricks against Queensland.
– The proposed duty will not benefit either Queensland or New ‘ South Wales - where, on the northern border and coasts, there is a very large quantity of good pine timber ; its only effect will be. by increasing the price of timber, to put a tax on all industries in which it is a raw material.
.- We are now faced with a problem which often confronts us in dealing with duties of this nature. Timber is .the raw material of the building and furniture trades, and by imposing a duty on it, we must, indirectly at any rate, injure those trades to some extent. But the honorable member for North Sydney would appear to be unfavorably disposed to the imposition of any duties, because his arguments went to show that any duty imposed on the classes of timber with which we are dealing would be reprehensible. I do not go with him to that length. I am willing to ‘admit that there is no timber in Australia so suitable for use in the mines at Broken Hill as is Oregon. I am willing also to admit that, in view of its cost and the ease with which it can be worked, no timber can be used there more economically, but I cannot follow the honorable member for Barrier in has desire that 12 x 6 timber should be admitted duty free. I understand that the timber chiefly used at Broken Hill is 10 x 10 timber, and if the honorable member is prepared to make his amendment apply to Oregon timber of that size I am willing to vote for it.
– Timber 10 x 10 would suit me, but there are other interests besides those of Broken Hill to be considered.
– I think that the free admission of Oregon timber 10 x 10 would meet the case amply. If the honorable member were dealing with other ^interests than those of Broken Hill, he should be prepared to vote for a higher duty, or to make the size 1-2 x 12 or any larger size, so that the cutting up of the timber might be done here. I am’ at a loss to understand why the honorable member should include New Zealand pine in his amendment, and in order to meet the views of honorable members who are prepared to vote with him on one line and axe opposed to him on another, he would do well to separate the two items. A good deal has been said by the honorable members for Wide Bay and North Sydney on the subject of the importation of timber in the log. I do not see why New Zealand white pine should not be imported in the log. The duty would be very little higher than if it were imported in planks, because in these days almost every portion of a log can be utilized. On my way to the House every morning from South Melbourne I see lorries going along the City-road loaded with log timber. I do not know whether this timber comes from New Zealand, Tasmania, or Vancouver, but there can be no doubt that if the importers found it cheaper to import this timber in planks they would do so, and, therefore, the argument that it costs 6d. a 100 feet more to import it ir? the log will not stand. I admit that this timber is squared to a certain extent, but the corners are left. I have’ seen cedar brought here from Cairns in the round, am’ when it is remembered that the freight in the coastal trade is higher than the oversea freight, it is clear that the argument that it is cheaper to import squared timber or timber in the plank does not appeal to the people most interested. To-day almost every atom of a log of “timber can be used in some form or another. The flitches cut off in squaring it can be used for the manufacture of cases, pieces smaller still are used for chair legs, and, in fact, everything but the sap is used. In the circumstances, there, is no reason why timber should not be imported in the log, and it would then be free of duty. I do not, in this matter, speak on behalf only of Queensland pine, because I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the demand for that timber to-day cannot be satisfied, although all bur mills are working full time. After all, it is really a serious question whether we should not be doing right in admitting all timber free of duty, seeing that, by doing so, we should be conserving our own forests. The day will come, in the not very distant future, when timber will be at extravagant, if not exorbitant, prices, and there is a good deal to be said for its free admission from abroad, when the effect would be to denude the forests of other countries while we preserved our own. However, we are not so far-sighted as, perhaps, we ought to be ; the present, and the immediate future appeals to us more strongly, and I suppose we shall continue to impose these duties. I am not opposed to the introduction of New Zealand pine free of duty for the manufacture of butter boxes, but the difficulty is that, to mv certain knowledge, timber which is ostensibly imported for that purpose goes into use in quite other directions.
– The honorablemember should not forget fruit cases.
– Almost any kind of waste timber that we have here can be user! for the manufacture of fruit cases. I say that if timber for the manufacture of butter boxes is to be admitted free of duty, it should be cut into such lengths as would render it useless for any other purpose.
– That would deprive men here of work in cutting the timber.
– That work does not amount to much, and it is not right that timber admitted free for the manufacture of butter boxes should be used for other purposes.
– Surely the honorable member for Melbourne Ports does not object to give some protection to the timber getter?
– Yes; the honorable member is a protectionist for South Melbourne.
– A few days ago, 1 had a paragraph taken from one of the northern newspapers in which it was stated that a Sydney or Melbourne firm had made inquiries to know what timber we had in North Queensland that would be suitable for furniture making and bending. Some people in the trade at Cairns got a piece of crow’s foot elm, from which great numbers of axe handles are manufactured there, and rounded it to about a11/2-inch diameter. It was then steamed, and tied in a knot, and in that form was sent to those who made the inquiries, with the request to know whether that would suit. . That conclusively proves that we have supplies of timber suitable for this purpose. There is one other remark I wish to make in reference to the claim made by timber merchants that the duty on timber should be on the actual contents ; that, for instance, a board 12 inches by1/2 inch should pay duty only as a1/2-inch board.
– The Minister is making that alteration.
– I do not wish the alteration made. There is a footnote attached to this item which some honorable members think should be deleted. I am not in favour of that. According to the Queensland practice - and that practice applies elsewhere, though not to the same extent - if you purchase a 12 -inch x1/2-inch board, you pay for it as a 12 x 1 inch board.
– I do not think that applies here.
– It does not apply in New South Wales.
– It applies in this way, that the board is not sold at the1/2 inch price, and the additional price charged amounts to a good deal more than is sufficient to pay for the extra cut. I have asked for price lists, with which I expect to be furnished before the debate on this item is concluded, and if they come to hand, I shall bring them under the notice of the Committee. In the circumstances, I am entirely opposed to the removal of the footnote. Timber merchants claim that a 12 x7/8 board should be dutiable as such, but no matter what they may do with respect to 1/2-inch timber, there is no doubt that they charge the 12 x 1 inch price for 12 x7/8inch timber.
– Because they lose something in the cutting.
– They get an extra board out of the timber, and they get a price which more than pays them for cutting the timber into 12 x7/8-inch sizes. I give notice now that if the honorable member for Barrier persists in his amendment,. I shall move that the size of the timber to which it refers shall be 10 x 10, which is the size chiefly used at Broken Hill. I hope the honorable member for Barrier will accept that amendment.
– If I were the Minister of Trade and Customs I should do so at once.
– If the honorable member does not do so, I shall have to vote against the 12 x 6 proposal.
.- One remark made by the honorable member for Herbert, although perhaps not directly related to the item, is worthy of public attention. He mentioned the practical sweeping out of our forests, without any attempt being made to replant. Commissions are sitting in different parts of the world at present on the question of afforestation. One of those is sitting in the United Kingdom, and is at present, I believe, in Ireland. The matter is regarded as of such great importance that most extensive reports are published in the daily papers to keep alive the public interest in the question of replanting. A similar remark applies to America. I hope that the Government during the recess - because the less time is lost in this matter the better - will approach the States with a view to arranging some united policy, either by the States on behalf of the Commonwealth, or, with the permission of the States, by the Commonwealth.
– New South Wales has a Commission at work now.
– I was not aware of that. The matter is of such supreme importance that it is now being attended to in America on a large scale, and in the United Kingdom, where I think the forests are far more dense and extensive in proportion to area than they are even in Australia. The honorable member for Herbert has complained about an understanding having been arrived at yesterday to leave out the footnote to this paragraph, under which measurements under1 inch would have been taxed as inch measurements. I differ from him upon that point, because it is pointed out to me that that class of timber is chiefly used in the country for the building of the poorer class of cottages, so that, from the point of view of the masses, it is just as well that it has been agreed to remove the footnote. My attention has been called to these duties by the timber merchants of Adelaide, who assure me in a joint letter, which, unfortunately, I cannot place my hand upon at the moment, that there is no Australian timber to take the place of Oregon, redwood, baltic, kauri, and white pine. They also assure me that the demand is so great that they cannot possibly get their orders attended to locally, and that the limited quantity of Queensland pine produced is chiefly absorbed in New South Wales and Victoria, while the Australian hardwood is principally used for such structures as bridges. The question of price has been mentioned. I have here what I believe was a circular letter sent to honorable members on 26th November by the Australasian Marbut Carving Company, Proprietary Limited. There are in it one or two paragraphs to which I wish to draw attention on the question of the limited local supply that exists to cope with the increasing demand, and also of the increase of prices since the introduction of this Tariff. This is a letter from a company who are asking for increased protection of their particular product - picture mouldings - in consequence of the increased cost of the raw material under the operation of the present duties. They mention that the protection on their manufactures of 20 per cent, ad valorem against imported mouldings was not sufficient under the old Tariff, when they were working under more favorable conditions than at present, as then a large proportion of their raw material - American timber - was charged dutyat the rate of1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet, whilst sundry New Zealand woods used by them in large quantities were admitted free. They say that their position is now rendered still worse, as the new timber duties have been increased to 2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet on American woods, which formerly came in at the lower rate, and to 2s. 6d. on the New Zealand timbers, which have hitherto been free. Regarding the difficulty that they find of getting their orders coped with, they mention that recently they tried to place orders with three Queensland sawmillers for delivery next year, but the contracts were declined owing to the inability of the sawmillers to supply their wants, while applications for quotations to eight sawmillers in their own State - presumably Victoria, as the firm is stationed in Melbourne - were met with silence on the part of six, while only two took the trouble to advise them that they could not supply any wood that would be suitable for their mouldings. They draw attention also to the fact that since 1904 orders totalling 477,500 superficial feet of Queensland timber have remained till this day unexecuted. Since the new Tariff came into operation the timber merchants have increased the price of bally-gum and caloon from 16s. 8d. to 24s. per 100 superficial feet;of hoop pine from 19s. 3d. to 21s. 6d. ; of silky oak from 24s. to 40s., and other woods in proportion, while even at those figures they cannot execute orders.
– That is the same as though Japan sent here for a million tons of wool, and declared, because we could not execute the order at the moment, that there was no wool produced in Australia.
– Of course the honorable member is perfectly just in making that remark, but I do not think much weight can be attached to it.
– If half-a-dozen people wanted the honorable member to appear for them, and he could only appear in one case, they might just as well claim that there were no barristers.
– In that case, I should simply lament the fact that I was not twins. Still I do not think much weight can be attached to what the honorable member for Maranoa says, in view of the statement of this firm that since 1904 orders covering 477,500 super feet have been unexecuted, and that they cannot even get promises to supply where their orders are two years in advance. It is, therefore, not a recent matter.
– The ships will not bring the timber.
– On the question of ships, I might say that one of the greatest difficulties in connexion with the local supply from Queensland is the cost of Inter-State freight. That is a very heavy drawback, and must be taken into consideration in connexion with these new duties. Before we dealt with the timber duties in 1901, the export of Queensland timber had largely fallen off. It has certainly not increased since then. That shows that there must be very great difficulty in the local consumption being met by the local supply. If anything is conclusive as to the great difficulty of our local forests meeting the demand, it is the fact mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney that the total importation of logs last year was about 1 , 500,000 super feet, whereas I believe in Broken Rill alone - if the figures are the same now as they were in 1901 - the consumption is about 15,000,000 super feet of timber. Considering the many avocations into which timber enters, that it is the raw material of so many industries, and that the price of building in South Australia - where the houses are built of stone, but where, of course, a fair amount of wood has to be used in their construction - has recently gone up by from 30 to 35 per cent. I would really appeal to honorable members to place a moderate impost, not only upon Oregon, and upon sizes that would suit the ordinary importations of Oregon, but upon timber generally, in the interests of trade throughout the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable member admit New Zealand pine free?
– Certainly; andoregon also. Of course, if we get a sixpenny duty, I shall rejoice, because that would not kill enterprise at Broken Hill; but my vote, in a matter of this importance, for reasons which I do not wish to elaborate, will go for freedom in connexion with these timbers. We ought to be especially considerate to the mining industry. Broken Hill, which has a present population of 40,000 persons, is the mainstay of a good many people who do not live there. It is a large consumer of timber.
– And there is a splendid natural forest on the Murray, not far away.
– We can only go on the evidence placed before us, of experts and of experience, which certainly shows, as the honorable member for Herbert has honestly admitted, that, as regardsoregon for Broken Hill, we shall really be nutting an insurance on the lives of the miners if we allow the mines to use Oregon. It is more easily worked, and always gives indication of creep or subsidence. Considering that we are indebted to a large extent for our prosperity to the development of those mines, and that the mining output is of the value of something like £32,000,000 per annum, surely honorable members will not think we ask too much when we ask that these woods’ should be admitted free, especially those which are not grown in Australia at all. I expect with some confidence that the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier will be agreed to.
– I do not wish to elaborate the question, as the honorable member for North Sydney put a very strong case before the Committee, and we had a long struggle over the matter in the consideration of the last Tariff. On that occasion, we reduced the duties considerably. I cannot understand why the Government should propose such a largely increased impost on timber. I am pleased that they have agreed to an alteration with regard to measurement, and are prepared to revert to the old system. What I am concerned about is the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier; and I desire to point out that oregon is largely used in ship-building work, for ceilings, linings, and so forth. Then, nothing better than kauri can be used for deck planking; and if duties be placed on these timbers, the result will not be to force Australian woods into use, but merely to increase prices to the users. Further, we know that pine is necessary for the making of butter boxes, and that Queensland pine is not so suitable as white or clear pine is in pattern-making. The Queensland pine is objected to on account of its knotty character.
– That is a mistake, surely?
– There is no mistake at all ; pattern-makers do not care to use hard or knotty wood.
– What timber do they require ?
– The white or clear pine of New Zealand. I wish that the Treasurer were present, because I desire to point out what I consider to be an anomaly in the Tariff. What I mean is that undressed American ash is made dutiable, whereas it ought to come under “ Hickory undressed” in paragraph x. American ash is similar to hickory, and obtained from the same part of the world ; and is preferred by coachbuilders on account of its strength and lightness. It is contended that we should at least make our own buggies and other vehicles; and even protectionists will not say that this industry can be carried on with hard woods or pines. Some of the largest users of timber happen to be within the Dalley electorate; indeed, in any industry of a substantial character, we may be sure of finding the leading workshops there situated. The marvel is that these industries should have all been created and have flourished without the assistance of any Tariff. I suppose that the Dalley electorate will, in the future, become more and more a manufacturing centre.
-Especially under this Tariff.
– These industries were established without the aid of a. Tariff ; but, of course, if a protective Tariff is to be passed, I do not see why something should not be done for my constituents. My own opinion is, however, that it is better to admit timber as under the old Tariff than to impose a duty which will not have the effect of forcing the use of Australian timbers but will merely increase the price of the imported article. I can understand the action of the honorable member for Barrier in the interests of large users of timber at Broken Hill ; because we know that, although within 40 or 50 miles there is plenty of timber available, that timber is not suitable for the purpose. I should like to point out that baltic timber is largely used in the making of spars, for which no one will contend Australian wood can be utilized. The honorable member for Cow per will admit that, even in the river shipbuilding of New South Wales, kauri is used to a large extent. As to the talk about the export of hardwood, the honorable member to whom I have just referred will bear me out when I say that it is difficult to get sufficient for the local consumption. I think honorable members ought to pay some attention to the honorable member for North Sydney, who is not one to exaggerate his statements, and who has more special knowledge than most men.
– The honorable member for North Sydney was seriously wrong when he said that, in the case of Queensland, more timber is imported than exported.
– The honorable member for North Sydney merely said that he was so informed.
– Then his information is seriously incorrect.
– If the honorable member for North Sydney has made a mistake, he will be ready to admitit.
– Since the sitting was suspended, my attention has been directed to the fact that under paragraph bb of this item, spars in the rough are admitted free, so that that portion of my argument which had reference to baltic pine falls to the ground. It is somewhat of an anomaly that whereas under paragraph a, ash, undressed, will be taxable at1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet, under paragraph x hickory will be admitted free. Now, it is well known that our coach-builders largely use American ash in the construction of buggies. They prefer it because of its lightness, its durability, and its toughness, and, consequently, this duty will prove a tax upon them.
– Queensland produces good timber for buggies.
– It is not as good as is American ash.
– Yes it is. But the public do not know that. The honorable member did not know it when he bought his buggy.
– I have never been able to purchase even a. wheelbarrow. If T. were a member of the Labour Party, probably I should have both a buggy and a motor car.
– Every Labour member possesses those things, i suppose?
– The honorable member for Maranoa must not interject from the Treasury bench.
– Under what standing order do you refuse to allow me to interject from this bench?
– I rule that the honorable member must not interject from the Treasury bench..
– Then I disagree with your ruling.
– Will the honorable member put his dissent in writing?
Mr. Page. - Most certainly. I desire to have this matter settled. If you, sir, will tell me under what standing order I am prevented from interjecting from the Treasury bench, I shall be satisfied.
– Under standing order 48.
– If there be a standing order bearing on the subject, I shall withdraw my dissent from your ruling.
– As hickory has received special treatment under this item, I fail to see why similar treatment should not be accorded to American ash. The honorable member for Riverina stated, by way of interjection this morning, that there was good timber in Australia which might be used in the Broken Hill mines. I recollect journeying with the Consul for Canada, Mr. J. S. Larke, some ten or eleven years ago, as far as Broken Hill. That gentleman was then on his way to inspect the forest at Menindi.
– There is no forest there.
– What is there?
– Merely scrub.
– Mr. Larke had always feared that American timber would lose its hold on the Australian market, but. his visit to Menindi effectually allayed his apprehension in that regard. Seeing that the Broken Hill mines use such an enormous quantity of timber, I do not favour imposing further taxation in this direction. Had the timbers at Menindi been suitable for mining purposes there is no doubt that the honorable member for Kooyong, who is a shrewd business man, would have purchased the entire forest. I shall support the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier in regard to the admission of
Oregon pine and kauri pine free of duty.
– The honorable member for North Sydney stated that hardwood could be purchased for 9s. per 100 superficial feet, while imported softwoods cost from 14s. to 17s. per 100 superficial feet. If that be so, why should there be such tremendous opposition to the duty proposed?
– Because it will increase the price of Oregon.
– The imposition of a duty upon timber is necessary to encourage Australian productions. The moment that we have Australian mills working up to their highest capacity a market will be available alike to the merchant and to the local timber-getter. The honorable member for Dalley has pointed out that American ash ought to be. admitted free, because buggies are chiefly built of that timber. But assuming that blackwood can be obtained in Tasmania which is superior to American ash, why should not its production be encouraged ?
– Australian timbers are not sufficiently seasoned.
– How can we expect the Australian mill-owner in the bush, whose banker is calling upon him about once every fortnight to reduce his overdraft, to season his timber if we do not provide him with a market for it? But if we place him in such a position that he is able to say to the local financier “ I am ableto producethis timber andI have an Australian market for it, but I wish to store it until it is thoroughly seasoned,” he will be able to get the necessary assistance to tide him over the dull season. Members of the Opposition will admit that, if they have studied even the elementary principles of finance.
– Let us establish a national bank.
– I will discuss that subject on another occasion. I merely wish to point out the necessity for developing our timber industry as the Americans and the Canadians have developed theirs.
– Suppose that Australia were competing with America; what would the honorable member do?
– I should do exactly what I am doing now. I am an Australian. More than that, I am not an accidental Australian. The honorable member for Barrier has stated that he wants pine admitted free for the Barrier mines.
– No, no.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has said that Queensland can supply the best pine in the world for the making of butter boxes, and, as regards mining requirements, stringy bark or blue gum is used in all the Tasmanian mines.
– Broken Hill gave an order for a month’s supply of stringy bark, but it paralyzed Tasmania. The sawmillers could not supply the order.
– Some of the largest mines in the world are in Tasmania. The world’s biggest tin mine is at Mount Bischoff, and Tasmanian timber is used in all the mines. From that State timber is being sent to South Africa, to be used in the Transvaal. It is found to be the best kind of timber in competition with American timber. Most of the mines in South Africa are managed by Americans. Their patriotism would encourage them to get American pine if it were superior to Tasmanian timber, but it is not. How, . then, can my honorable friends on the other side stand up and say that Tasmanian timber is not fit to be used for the purpose of developing the Broken Hill mines ? Their minds are affected by this accursed prejudice in favour of “ foreignism “ - this black-hearted bigotry - against the use of everything Australian. We ought to have a duty of10 or 15 per cent, to wipe that feeling out of their souls, and so that they may be led to love their own country. I intend to move that logs be not allowed to come in free. Let me read to honorable members a tribute to the merits of Tasmanian hardwood from the report of the A section of the Tariff Commission -
Tasmanian hardwood has not got into general use, as it is more difficult to be worked than imported pine, and also because of the low duty on the latter. Hardwood lasts twice as long as pine - in fact flooring of hardwood will last for 100 years with ordinary usage - but first cost, and not durability, is the chief consideration. - (H. Jones, Q. 35229.) In Tasmania, very little other timber than hardwood is used for flooring; but it is not so utilized in other States.(Q. 35265-6.) The chief objection to hardwood for mining purposes is its weight, which increases the cost of railway carriage. A piece of hardwood 9 ft. 6 in. x 4 in., is equal in strength to Oregon 9 ft. 12 in. x 6 in., and the one would be as easy to handle as the other, strength for strength. - (Q. 35274-75.) Hardwood has twice the straining power of Oregon, and one-third less the quantity of the former would suffice for mining purposes as against the latter. This meant, to some extent, a reduction of cost. - (Q. 35277-80.) Tasmanian blackwood and Huon pine are said to be two of the finest timbers in the world for cabinet and other uses. Hardwood is more white-ant resisting than pine; less inflammable, and therefore more suitable for mining purposes. - (Q. 35296-98.) Hardwood flooring boards when tongued and grooved, are not liable to tear.- (Q. 35335-37.)
Every one knows that pine boards are liable to tear -
Tasmanian stringybark and bluegum, unlike some other hardwoods, do not snap suddenly and without warning. For this reason, those timbers, the witness contended, were both safe and suitable for mining purposes, and large quantities had been used at Broken Hill prior to the introduction of Oregon on account of saving in freight on the latter. - (Q. 35407-11.) In most cases, hardwood thoroughly seasoned can be used for building purposes quite as economically as Oregon. In the case of long spans, it is more difficult to obtain seasoned hardwood, as outside sizes are not generally kept in stock.
That is exactly what I have pointed out - that the sawmillers in small places are not financially in a position, owing to the fact that they have not got the Australian market, to saw their own timber and keep it for years to season it.
– They are supplying the British Admiralty with the longest span timber in the world - 160 feet long.
– Exactly. The report continues -
A 12 in. x 2 in. joist, witness said, if put green into a building, would shrink fully11/2 to 2 inches.- (Kemp, Q. 36168-74.) With the exception of flooring boards, no attention was paid to the seasoning of timber, and builders nearly always used it green - very often before it had been out of the log a fortnight. - (Q. 36238-41,) pry hard-wood cannot be so rapidly worked as Oregon and kindred woods. Weatherboards take double nailing, and particular care has to be taken of the thinner edge. There is a larger outlay in insurance on Oregon than on hardwood. (Q. 36254-59.)
The report goes on to deal with the position in other States. In Tasmania we’ have every kind of timber required to supply the needs of the Commonwealth for some thousands of years.
– The mines could not get a supply from Tasmania.
– Is it not amazing, sir, that honorable members get into their minds this fiction that they could not get a supply from Tasmania? I propose to read a few opinions from a letter which has been placed in my hands by the honorable member for Franklin. It does not emanate from the sawmillers of the large cities, who want everything admitted free except their own product. I am not fighting for the privileges of the large cities, but for the rights of the small sawmillers, who have cleared the bush, and have been followed by settlement. In Tasmania there are places where hundreds of farmers are settled behind the sawmills.
– There is a duty on hardwood.
– What is the use of having a duty on hardwood when none is imported? It does not amount to anything unless we can shut out the pine.
– Would the honorable member make them use hardwood for butter boxes?
– If the honorable member will vote with me to put a duty on pine, I am quite willing to take the duty off hardwood.
– Would the honorable member make butter boxes out of Tasmanian timber?
– Queensland and Tasmania can furnish enough pine to make all the butter boxes used here for the next 10,000 years. The sawmillers close their letter with a statement that if these proposals were adopted, it would mean 12,000 more employes working directly and permanently in the industry, and 30,000 selectors, artisans, and tradesmen to supply their wants. Let it not be forgotten that when the sawmills take down the timber they clear the land, and settlement follows. Honorable members, with the Prime Minister as their leader, are fighting to bring emigrants from the Old Country to Aus-tralia. An opportunity to find places to settle immigrants is afforded by encouraging the local timber producers. We can introduce immigrants and dispose of them in this way to the immense benefit of local industries. I have had too many years of business experience not to know how hard it is to induce business men to change from the old ways to which they are accustomed. I venture to say that if I went down Collinsstreet or Flinders-lane, and offered a new thing to a business man, no matter how valuable it might be, if he had been in the habit of handling a certain thing in a certain way for twenty or thirty years, he would not change his practice. We are told that the manufacturers, business men. and mine-owners know what is best for their purposes. I say that they do not know ‘ what is best. The reason why they stick to what they are accustomed to. is largely because they have entered into contracts. What is the use of talking about equality of opportunity? There is no equality of’ opportunity, if we give the big man an opportunity to swallow up the little fellow.
– The big fellow was a little fellow once, I suppose.
– The honorable member himself was a little fellow once, but now he is a big fellow. Knowing what it is to struggle and fight as a little man, with every one against him, I want to give the little man who is running a mill, an opportunity ; and on this ground I claim the vote of the honorable member for Echuca. I suppose that the- minds of honorable members are made up. I. can only put the case to them to the best of my understanding, and ask them if they can find it in their consciences and souls’ to do something for the small sawmiller of this country, to help me on this occasion.
.- This question is one of the most important (hat we have had to deal with in considering the Tariff. It strikes me as having a good many sides. Forestry as an industry has been very much neglected by all the States. All over the world, an alarm has been created as to the probable shortage of timber. It is heart-breaking to observe what little interest is taken in the preservation of the magnificent forests we have in all the States of the Commonwealth. Some of our timbers are unique; all of them are valuable. But still a good deal of careless destruction takes place. Splendid trees are cut down and only portions ot them are utilized. It occurs to me that as forestry is not cared for as it ought to be, there is no need for us to rush in to encourage timber cutting until the people of the various States are awakened to the necessity of properly utilizing their resources. ‘ We are not ready, by means of a protective policy, to bring about the proper care and use of our timbers. The question whether they can be profitably utilized cannot be considered solely from the timber-getter’s point of view. He has to go out into the forest in very rough country, where nothing is done by the States Governments to help him. It is easier to get a railway line, constructed into an agricultural district than to get a line put into a forest. During the last Tariff debate, we were told by Queensland representatives that there are magnificent forests in that State, but that, unfortunately, they are inaccessible. That means that nothing has been done to take railways to them. There is no country that is inaccessible, if ordinary means of access are adopted.
– It is going “to be done in the near future.
– We hear nothing but what is going to be done. I do not take much notice of things that are going to be done. It is sufficient for me that in the past our timber resources have been neglected. In Queensland, railway carriage, road carriage, and water carriage can be provided, and if the State goes ahead sufficiently to warrant a good Government providing for plenty of timbercarrying ships, and for railways into the forests, we shall begin to think more favorably of the importance of the timber industry. There are magnificent timber resources which are at present practically untouched, and which, even with a very high duty, would not necessarily be forced, into use, because the cost of getting the Queensland timber down to the big centres in the several States would be so high that it would be cheaper for the timber merchants to pay the duty and import. We have imported during the past nine months - taking returns which have come to hand this week -0,126,042 worth of timber. At the same time we exported £525,399 worth. These figures show that we are sending away about half as much as we import.
That is just one of those anomalies that face us in connexion with our industries. We have supplies of our own, but we are not utilizing them as we ought to do. ‘ It does not follow that a high duty would alter that neglect. There has been some talk about imposing a duty on logs. Let me say at once that putting logs on the free list is simply frill and trimming. It means absolutely nothing. It is better for the importers to pay the duty on cut timber than to take the logs free. Not only is that proved by the facts quoted by the honorable member for North Sydney, showing that there is no import of logs for cutting-up purposes, but it is also proved by the fact that the only logs that are imported are used as large timber for special purposes. The honorable member for Darwin, who is a business man, will understand the position of affairs when I quote figures from this week’s price list. It shows that the price of New Zealand kauri pine logs runs from 20s. to 24s. per 100 superficial feet. The price for kauri pine sawn is from 20s. to 30s. So that the best sawn timber sells at practically the same price as kauri logs. What timber merchant would be mad enough to pay for logs, which he would have to put labour into for cutting up, when he could get sawn timber for the same money? Furthermore, if he bought logs he would not be sun: that some of them would not have flaws in them, whereas when hebuys sawn timber he knows that he is getting the best. Furthermore, when ships are laden with cut-up timber they can be loaded heavily, and the stuff is easy to handle. But when you put logs into a ship there is waste of space owing to their differing shapes and lengths. Therefore all this talk of admitting logs free simply means the advantage of a few people who want great blocks of wood for special purposes. Then, again, the price list shows that New Zealand kauri pine flitches are sold at from 22s. to 25s. per 100 superficial feet. Those facts it seems to me, do away with the idea that it is necessary to make provision for the free import of logs. I also desire to say that Broken Hill is not the only mining centre that needs to import Oregon. In my own electorate, on the Cobar field, there are enormous quarries. Some of the holes arc so large that the whole of these Parliament buildings could easily be dropped into one of them. When a mine reaches a certain depth, they cannot quarry any more, hut have to use timbers, and the only way of preventing a collapse is by adopting what is known as the square set - the method followed at Broken Hill. The only suitable timber is Oregon. If hardwood is used, there is danger. It is true that hardwood is used in mines all over Australia, but it is not suitable at places like Broken Hill. There are thousands of miners there who have been mining all their lives, and there are also mine managers who have been specially trained to the work. Very strong evidence would have to be brought forward to convince honorable members who are impartial that these men do not understand what they want. They take what suits their particular locality as any other sane and wise man would do. To attempt to apply one universal rule to differing conditions is merely foolishness. The advantage of using Oregon where the square-set method of mining is adopted is that when there is danger it begins to “talk,” as the miners say, and so gives the men time to get out of danger. I have worked in mines for many years myself. I have been in mines that were timbered with some of the strongest wood that Australia can produce - box, which will withstand fire as well as steel. But. this strong timber will collapse suddenly with a noise like a clap of thunder. It gives no warning. Those who talk about developing our forestry for the benefit of the mining industry are therefore talking beside the issue. They do not touch the necessities of mines like those at Broken Hill and Cobar, and even at Stawell, where the same method will have to be adopted. For the square-set system, after experiment no timber has been found so suitable from the point of view of safety as Oregon. That there is timber that is stronger is admitted. It is not a question of strength, but of suitability - of giving warning to the men of the crash that is coming from the settling of the country. An honorable member has interjected that we ought to consider the question of safety from fire. Very few fires occur in the mines.
– There have been a few in the Broken Hill mines.
– We have to take precautions against fire in mines just as we have to do in our own homes. Stringy bark will burn well in a draught. The imposition of even a very heavy duty will not cause the use of Oregon for mining purposes to be discontinued:
– The only way to prevent the use of Oregon in mines would be to prohibit its importation.
-Exactly. The duty will not increase employment, and it will simply be a tax upon an industry which is not producing something the price of which can be regulated. It will not cause an additional foot of timber from Tasmania or the Murray district to be used in the mines. I would therefore urge honorable members to give special consideration to this paragraph. There is no conflict between Oregon and Australian timbers, and I think that the items mentioned should be dealt with separately.
– What are the sizes of the Oregon used in the mines ?
– The timber is obtained in sizes of 10 inches x 10 inches, and is cut on the mines. A large quantity of hardwood is also used in Broken Hill and other mining districts, and it seems probable that we shall continue to use a lot of it. At the present time in my district mining timber has to be carried a distance of 460 miles, so that the cost of carriage alone is a serious item, and the timber should be made available at as low a rate as possible. When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration some timber merchants complained that if oregon were allowed to come in free it would compete unfairly with Australian timbers. On this occasion, however, they ask thatoregon in sizes of 12 inches x 6 inches or of equivalent sizes shall come in free. The workers in the industry and the timber merchants themselves are therefore in agreement.
– They are not timber getters; they are only timber-cutters, carrying on business in Melbourne and other large cities.
– If we can extend consideration to the timber getter - the primary producer - we ought to do so. The timber merchants have asked that certain timbers that are not produced here shall be allowed to come in free since they do not compete with Australian timbers. I disagree with the attitude taken up by some honorable members, who seem to object to the free introduction of certain imported timber on the ground that it enters into competition with Australian timbers which, although not suitable, might well be used as a substitute. As a matter of fact the great mining companies at Broken Hill and in my own electorate are obliged to obtain oregon irrespective of the cost, and as that is the position of many other mines, such an argument ought not to carry any weight. I shall leave experts to deal with the question of whether or not New Zealand white pine is absolutely necessary for butter boxes.
– I hope that they will not do so at any length.
– I have been endeavouring to put up a fight for the great mining industry, which gives employment not to a lot of women and girls, but to 112,000 men. So far, although the Treasurer has met us to some extent by a re-arrangement of the item, I have not been very successful. Honorable members have not given to the industry the consideration that it deserves. I have endeavoured to make the demands of the mining industry fit in with the requirements of other industries ; but I hope that honorable members will recognise that this is an exceptional item. Tasmania could not supply the demand for hardwood at Broken Hill.
– That is incorrect.
– I am informed that it cannot do so, although I know that Tasmania has magnificent forests, and that the Broken Hill mines use a great deal of Tasmanian hardwood. I know sufficient concerning the dairying industry to be able to say that timber that will not taint the butter is absolutely necessary for butter- boxes, and we should not unnecessarily tax an industry when the selling prices of its products cannot be regulated. The honorable member for Herbert has suggested an alteration in the size of the timber dealt with under this paragraph. I would remind him, however, that the size of 12 in. x 6 in. is generally recognised by timber merchants as one that readily lends itself to cutting. The size 10 in. x 10 in. would not be so suitable, and the alteration of the minimum, as suggested by the honorable member would be unsatisfactory. I think that we should adhere to the proposal that the minimum size dealt with under this paragraph shall be 12 in. x 6 in. or its equivalent, which will be more convenient and at the same time enable the mines to obtain the size of timber that they require.
.- I have in my electorate timber merchants who have written to me complaining of the effect of these duties, and have asked me to lay certain facts before the Committee. I shall endeavour to do so as briefly as possible. One point that they emphasize is that Oregon does not seriously compete with Queensland pine. Some of our Queensland friends seem to think that it does ; but, as a matter of fact, Oregon, owing to its peculiar suitability for building and mining purposes, as well as for spars, will continue to be imported, regardless of any duty that may be imposed. It is far superior for the special purposes for which it is used to any of the hardwoods which some honorable .members suggest should be substituted for it. I should like the honorable member for Barrier, who I understand proposes to insert the words “ Oregon pine and white pine” before n.e.i. in paragraph A to also include the words “baltic and redwood.”
– I have no objection.
– I think that the timbers dealt with in paragraphs a, b and c should be subjected to the one duty. An all-round duty of 6d. per .100 superficial feet would about meet the case, although J would prefer to see them all made free. Redwood is used almost exclusively for joinery purposes - for door panels, skirtings, ‘mouldings, sashes, architraves, and the like. Baltic is a cheap class of timber used largely by artisans and settlers for flooring, lining, and weatherboards ; it is rarely employed in the construction of the more expensive buildings, where the more expensive kauri flooring is. preferred. I have here a statement from Messrs. Langdon and Langdon, timber merchants of New South Wales, which I shall read to the Committee, believing that I shall thereby save time -
We are admittedly the largest distributors of Oregon in the State, and we can therefore speak with some confidence upon the matter, and have no hesitation in saying that the graduated duties will not have that effect - [stop the importation of smaller sizes’] - and that the specifications for future delivery will not in any way be altered. As a matter of fact, since we were notified of these duties, we have sent specifications away to America for four separate shipments, aggregating over six million feet, and we have made not the slightest alteration in the specification in consequence of the altered duties. The reason for this must be apparent to any one having any knowledge of the building trade, as builders have so long been accustomed to getting what is termed “ foreign cut “ (full cut), that they are not likely to pay for sizes £ inch more in thickness and in width than they actually get, which would be the case if cut out of ordinary junk; and, on the other hand, the timber merchants could not afford to cut smaller sizes, such as 3 in. x 2 in., 4 in. x 2 in., &c, full, out of such big sizes without charging an additional price to cover the waste caused bv the saw cut. Taking this into consideration, with the extra handling, it will still pay .the timber merchants better to import the smaller sizes and pay the additional duty. In other words, it would not pay us as merchants to cut up the large-sized timber, as the cost of labour and the waste would amount to more than the additional duty.
Therefore, it will be seen that, no matter how high the duty on sawn timber is made, the timber merchants will still find it pays them better to import certain sizes ready cut up than to import the logs and have them cut here. It would cost them more than they would save in duty. With regard to what has been said about the possibility of supplying the requirements of the Commonwealth with locally-grown timber, I have here a number of letters containing the complaint khat orders placed with local mills months ago have not vet been executed. One correspondent says -
In September, 1906, we wrote complaining of the great delay in the execution of orders, and they replied stating that we must not blame them for being short as they would hurry up our orders, and that they would run the particular item in question, viz., flooring, as soon as they could ; but it. would be at least a fortnight before the timber was properly dry, and, notwithstanding this promise, the order still remains unexecuted.
Again, in August of this year, we had an inquiry from one of our builders for the following, viz. : -
Thinking we might get this down in one consignment, we communicated with the Sydney agents of the Queensland Timber Combine, asking for a quotation for the same. They replied to the effect that at the moment they could not accept any further orders for Queensland hoop pine. Therefore, you will readily see that, notwithstanding our desire to obtain this timber, the Queensland people are not in a position to supply even our smallest order within a reasonable time. Our requirements are of such a nature that we could take this timber by the full shipload, and pay cash against documents, and yet we are receiving such small consignments - even down to 2,000 feet - that when it does arrive, it is really not worth our while to incur the expense of taking delivery, as we have to take delivery by punt, and it costs us very nearly as much to take delivery of 2,000 feet as it would for 50,000.
As a further instance of the unsatisfactory position of the Queensland trade, the tendency of the increased duties seems to be putting the Queensland mills in such a position that they will not accept orders at ruling or schedule prices, but are seeking for offers by competition among the timber merchants, which means that this business is being conducted upon an absolutely unsatisfactory basis. We dare not book orders in advance for this class of timber, as when we have done so in the past we have invariably had to substitute some other timber in consequence of its not coming to hand in time.
Not only is the supply of Queensland pine unequal to the demand, but the Queensland mill-owners are refusing orders at schedule prices, holding back to secure still higher prices by means of combination.
– They cannot get their timber away. The Shipping Ring will not take it.
– That is nonsense. There are plenty of sailing vessels to be chartered if the steamers of the Shipping Ring are not available. The firm to which I have alluded is willing to take the whole of their shipments, and yet cannot get its orders executed. It cannot even get a small quantity like 3,000 feet without waiting an unduly long time. However, I shall not labour the question, although I could say a good deal on the subject. I hope that the duties will be considerably reduced. The Committee should not forget that the imported timbers have special uses which the Colonialpine will not serve, and, therefore, do not come into competition with it. Timber merchants are willing to take as much Colonial pine as they can get, but, in addition, they find it necessary to make large importations oforegon, baltic, redwood, white pine, and kauri to meet their obligations to the building and other trades.
.- I desire to emphasize one ortwo points which have been made during the discussion. The alteration in the definition of superficial area to which the Minister agreed last night will make a great difference to the position. That should not be lost sight of. The honorable member for Darwin made a forcible appeal for the use of Tasmanian timbers. I wish to see Tasmanian and Australian timbers used as much as possible, and at Broken Hill a large quantity of Tasmanian timber is used. Last year we used 750,000 feet of Tasmanian timber.. But the total quantity of timber required there for mining purposes is 15,000,000 feet - a pretty big order to fill. Undoubtedly, for mining purposes Oregon possesses qualities which the Australian timbers do not possess. In the first place, it is much lighter. Seven hundred superficial feet of Oregon, 960 feet of baltic, or 360 feet of hardwood go to the ton. From Port Pirie to Broken Hill the freight on timber is 26s. 2d. per ton. Therefore, it costs 37s. 41/2d. to transport 1,000 superficial feet of oregon over that distance, and 72s. 71/2d., or 35s. 3d more, to transport the same quantity of Tasmanian hardwood.
– Is not the hardwood twice as strong?
– The tensile strength of Oregon is not so great as that of hardwood ; but it is of great advantage to miners to be able to use a timber which is not too heavy to be easily handled, and there is a great saving in freight in using the lighter timber. Moreover, in the working of large ore bodies - some of them 120 to 150 feet wide -the lives of the men depend upon the indications given by the supporting timbers that the strain upon them is too great.
– Would not the miners be safer if stronger timber were used ?
– No. Hardwood timber, being short in the grain, breaks suddenly, whereasoregon, being long fibred, buckles, and gives evidence of strain long before it breaks. Oregon timber may appear to be strained to a dangerous extent, when as a matter of fact there is really no danger, since the miners know that, in spite of appearances, its bearing strain is by no means exhausted. These features of Oregon timber are of great importance, since they give miners necessary warnings, and, as a consequence of the use of this timber, very serious accidents have been prevented at Broken Hill. The difficulty of shaping hardwood, owing to its hardness, is, in addition to its weight, a matter of importance to the mines. It may be interesting to honorable members to learn that of the 8,000,000 feet of timber used per annum by the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. alone, 47 per cent. is 10 x 10, and 53 per cent. 10 x 8 timber. Other companies at Broken Hill import timber cut to sizes of 10 x 2 and 10 x 4, but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company have their own sawmills in which they cut the smaller sizes required at the mine. There are reasons why I should be glad to see the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Barrier carried, but in dealing with Tariff items I have always endeavoured to support fair and reasonable proposals, and I am not prepared to believe that it is the intention of the Committee that the large quantities of timber that have been referred to should be imported free of duty. My own feeling is that we shall have done what is fair if we succeed in inducing the Treasurer to agree to a duty of 6d. per 100 feet.
– That is the old duty.
– Yes, the old duty. That would be an equitable and workable duty, and one to which the various interests involved could take no exception.
– Does the honorable member wish to bring all . the timber duties down to the level of those imposed under the old Tariff?
– ‘No, my suggestion would not have that effect. I have not proposed to interfere with’ other duties set out in this Tariff. If the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier is not carried, and I do not anticipate that it will be, I shall be prepared to move that the duty should be the same as under the old Tariff. The Treasurer would save his own time and the time of the Committee if he would accept that alteration. I have information regarding the timber duties in my possession with which I might occupy the time of the Committee for an hour or two, but I have not the remotest intention of doing so. I have’ risen merely to accentuate the fact that Oregon timber for mining purposes has peculiar advantages over and above the hardwood timber referred to by the honorable member for Darwin.
– Why is it not used in the mines at Ballarat, Bendigo, Newcastle, and other places?
– Because they mine on an entirely different principle from that followed at Broken Hill.
– What is the width of the lodes at Ballarat?
– It is true that they mine in the places referred to on a different principle from that followed at Broken Hill. Most of the timber used at Ballarat is round timber. I ask the Treasurer to say whether he is willing to accept the suggestion I have made. If he is, I think a majority of the Committee will be found prepared to agree to it.
– The debates which have taken place in this Chamber for weeks past have clearly shown that the Committee is in favour of protecting native industries. Honorable members have shown their willingness to impose duties, not - only where it is clear that to do so would give encouragement to established industries, but where it is shown that it would probably lead to the establishment of industries. If there is any industry in Australia of which it can be said that it is native to the soil, and ought to be encouraged by those who be lieve in assisting local industries, it is the timber industry. Yet I venture to say without hesitation that there is no industry natural to Australia which has been so much neglected. We have in each of the States forest wealth which even our own people do not appreciate, because we have not yet been able to place our timbers on the market in such a way as to impress them with their value. I am afraid that the action that is likely to be taken in this Committee will not help the industry very much. We have considered that the imposition of protective duties on imports of foreign goods which come into competition with goods manufactured here is helpful to the local industries. Why should this principle be considered helpful when applied to the production of iron, to the clothing,, or to any other local industry, and not helpful if applied to the timber industry ? Very complimentary things have been said to-day about timbers which are imported from other parts of the world; but I want to say that there is no timber in the world like the Australian hardwoods, and for all practical purposes the soft woods of Australia compare favourably with the foreign timbers of which we have heard so much. I hope the Government will be able to carry the duties they have proposed. Several speakers have referred to peculiarities of imported timbers which render them suitable for certain classes of work. I shall not dispute what has been said about the special requirements of timber used for mining purposes. But, in view of all that has been said, it does seem strange that at Newcastle - and the honorable member for Newcastle can bear me out - it is found that even inferior Australian hardwood can be used for props in the mines. I am afraid that it is not so much the special quality of the imported timber that is considered, but the fact that the people of Broken Hill have to pay railway freight on the dead weight of timber, and our colonial hardwood being heavy, they wish to save the expense in freight to which they would be put if they used hardwood instead of oregon. I remind honorable members that the superiority of the breaking strain of Australian hardwoods has been proved over and over again ; and hardwood beams of half the size of the Oregon timber used would carry all the weight they would have to carry in the Broken Hill mines. Much that has been said about the advantage of the use of imported timbers for building purposes is merely absurd. No one who knows any thingat all about the subject would think of comparingoregon with Australian hardwoods for joists. No one can tell me that there is anything superior to red mahogany for flooring joists, whilst for flooring tallow-wood will last longer than the people who use it. When it is shown that imported timbers come into competition with our local timbers, we should be able to appeal to honorable members to study our own people, and protect the local timber industry. We have thousands of men engaged in the industry in Australia, and no men are more hard working than those engaged in getting timber in the bush. No people work under greater hardship or receive less for their work, and yet we find honorable members’ cavilling about the few pence additional protection which would assist these men to obtain a good living. We often hear talk of our timber supplies becoming exhausted, but we need fear no such contingency. They are not likely to become exhausted, even though we should make a small effort at afforestation. If the States Governments would give the assistance to afforestation which has been over and over again promised
– And never given.
– How old must a tree be before it is fit for cutting?
– To what tree does the honorable member allude?
– An Australian gum. Must it be 40 years old?
– I could show the honorable member a tallow-wood tree 7 feet 6 inches in girth that is not as old as I am by a long way, and he could cut a thousand feet of marketable timber out of it. I wish to say in connexion with the suggested exhaustion of our timber supplies, that the very primitive means on which we have to depend in most cases for getting our timbers to market have restricted our operations to a very small area. It is not possible for a man drawing timber with a bullock team to work more than 10 miles from a saw-mill ; working at that distance he is able to deliver no more than three logs a week, for which he would’ receive perhaps£1 each at the stump, or hardly that. The imposition of the duties proposed would do something to make the timber industry profitable to those engaged in it ; then a good deal more might be done if saw-mill companies could, or preferably the States Governments would, construct tram lines to open up our forests. There are thousands of acres of virgin forest in New South Wales that have never had an axe in them, but the nature of the country, and the means of transport, are such that the timber is practically inaccessible. The condition of things is such that the people in the industry are practically unable to help themselves. There are no more resourceful men inthe world than are bullock drivers, but in this matter, they are able to do but little to help themselves. Perhaps I should not be in order in speaking of afforestation, but I wish to say that our Australian hardwoods do not require afforestation on the lines which some people think necessary. We hear men talking about planting gum trees as if they were talking of planting cabbages. That kind of assistance is not required at all. The gum forests may be left to themselves. I know of many places which have in my time been denuded of timber, and which will be covered with another growth before I die. In connexion with pine timber, we have been told that we have no pine available, or that it is not of a marketable character. With the assistance which I hope the proposed duties will give to the industry, people who have pine on their properties will be able to place as much on the market as Australia can consume. I have a letter from a settler on the Richmond River, near my own district, though not in it, in which reference is made to the timber available on his property. I am able to inform the Committee that in the district which is known as the Don Dorrigo, there is the finest pine I have ever seen. There are virgin forests of pine there that have never had an axe in them, because there has been no means of getting the timber to market. As a result, the people who take up the country are burning off timber which could be put to use if sufficient inducements were held out to those engaged in the industry to put it on the market.
– The honorable member is referring to difficulties of transit, and the remedy for that is a railway, and not a duty.
– To show the quantities of timber in these areas, the settler to whom I have referred writes to Messrs. Langdon and Langrton, sawmillers, of Sydney, as follows -
We hope to be sending to Sydney market in the near future, and have about five million feet growing and paid for, two million on our own land and three million we have purchased on outside land, and for this three million we may want to find a market, and will no doubt send to Sydney market if prices are all right.
That is on one man’s selection. Very valuable evidence was also given before the Tariff Commission, showing the amount nf timber available, and surely with such wealth as this at our disposal it is worth our while to do something for those engaged in producing it. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission in their report state -
A return from the Deparment of Lands (May, 1905) showed that the forest area of the State upon which timbers of commercial value occur is roundly estimated to comprise 20,000,000 acres, of this 7,250,000 acres have up to date been reserved for forestry purposes. Of the resumed area about 4,500,000 acres comprised coastal hardwoods, 2,000,000 acres inland forests of, box, ironbark, and redgum, and about 1,000,000 acres highland brush forests, carrying hoop or Moreton Bay pine and ‘other soft woods. On this latter area the amount of hoop pine available for present cutting is roundly estimated to be about 400,000,000 superficial feet.
With regard to Queensland, the Commission report -
The Government Director of Forests supplied your Commission with some valuable information, to the following effect : - “ The area of the State is 427,838,080 acres, of which about 40,000,000 acres contain merchantable timbers, and it is estimated that about one-third of the entire State contains timbers at least suitable for local purposes. There are 338 reserves, embracing 3,606,709 acres, which have been proclaimed as reserves for forestry purposes. It is estimated that on reserves there are 2,000,000,000 super, feet of pine, and on Crown leased and freehold lands, 1,000,000,000 super, feet, making a total of 3,000,000,000 super, feet.
Al! that goes to show that we should do something to encourage those in the timber country to make this wealth available, and to give them markets and facilities by which thev can bring this valuable asset within the reach of the people of Australia. With regard to freights, the Tariff Commission report -
In Western Australia it was said that the freight of local timber from that State to the eastern States was about 10s. a ton. Similar timber from Canada or the United States was about 28s. per 1,000 feet, or equal to 3s. per 100 feet.
We pay from 2s. od. to 3s. per 100 feet for the carriage of timber from the northern rivers of New South Wales, between 200 and 300 miles, to Sydney. Therefore, according to the sworn evidence given before the Commission, timber can be brought from Canada or the United States to Australia as Cheaply as it can be from the. Bellinger and other rivers of Northern New South Wales to Sydney. The timber people in those countries can handle it more easily, because thev have large rivers down which they can raft it, whereas our people, as our top rivers are not sufficiently large to float the timber, have to haul it through the bush with bullocks, carried on the trucks. The same condition applies to other parts of the Commonwealth, as is shown by the evidence regarding Western Australia. Oregon, 12 by 6 and over, is landed in Hobart duty paid at about 10s. to 12s. per ]00, and in Sydney at about 10s. per 100. We in New South Wales have engaged in thi production of timber in a very large way, and have invested a considerable amount of money in it, especially in the case of hardwood timbers. Our mills are the most up to date in Australia, and the wages are such as those concerned need not hi ashamed of. A fresh arrangement has lately been made by which the hours of labour have been reduced. There is a very marked difference between the wages there and those paid in the Baltic trade. This Committee has rightly given consideration in the case of other industries to the difference in the rates of wages paid here and elsewhere, and we should therefore take them into account in this case. The Tariff Commission in their report, on the authority of a Queensland witness, state -
The highest rate of wages paid in the production of Baltic timber was 2s. per day, whilst the rate for corresponding work in Queensland was is. per hour.
It stands to reason that if our sawmillers are paying from is. per hour - and those are low wages for some of the men, because expert benchmen and others are paid much higher - we cannot compete with people who only pay 2s. a day. I hope that the Committee will give to the timber getters as much consideration as has been extended to those engaged in other Australian industries.
– Does the honorable member say that the timber cutters in America are paid less than those in Tasmania?
– I was comparing the .rates of wages in New South Wales and Queensland with those in the Baltic. The honorable member for Barrier has moved that certain timbers be admitted free, with particular reference to the sizes of oregon used in the Broken Hill mines. He also includes New Zealand pine, which competes very extensively with our pine and other timbers. I fail to see why it should be admitted free. The only direction in which our timber may not be able to compete with New Zealand pine is in the making of butter boxes, because I understand that our pines are more resinous, and if used for butter boxes would deteriorate the butter. I intend to move when the opportunity offers, that New Zealand pine cut to sizes for butter boxes made in bond shall be free. I hope that the Committee will help the sawmilling industry of Australia to overcome some of the disadvantages under which it suffers. Another fact, which is not known to most people, is that we in New South Wales are under a heavy disability in the amount of royalties which we pay to the Crown for our timber.
– Does the honorable member want a duty to compensate for that?
– I think that when a man is loaded in one way, we should help to unload him in another. The men with whom we are competing do not pay such royalty. We in this Committee cannot interfere with the royalty system, but we can help the timber getter in another way. The New South Wales Government demand as royalty on ironbark in the log, 7d. per 100 superficial feet.
– Does the honorable member think it fair that all Australia should pay a duty in order that New South Wales may collect a royalty?
– I understand that there are conditions in other States which, although not quite identical, have a similar effect to that of the New South Wales royalty system. On other hardwoods we have to pay 5d. per 100 superficial feet ;. on redgum in the log,1s. 6d. ; on brush timber, other than cedar, 6d. ; Richmond River pine, 6d. ; Cypress pine, 9d. ; and cedar in the log,1s. 6d., per 100 superficial feet.
– Do they expect to get it for nothing?
– I am drawing attention simply to the way we are handicapped in our competition with timber from outside. Those royalties are on log measurement.. Out of a 1,500-foot log, which is only a fair measurement for a tallow-wood log, no saw-miller will get more than 1,000 feet of marketable timber; but still we have to pay royal ty on all that the log contains, which is always a good deal more than we get out of it in marketable timber. The older and more faulty the timber is, the greater are the losses. No miller could cut up logs from the very best forest that I know of with less waste than one-third, while in the majority of cases, there is a loss of 50 per cent, in the cutting up. All those are reasons why the Committee might give assistance to the timber getters. I hope that the duties proposed by the Government will be retained, or, if not, that at least substantial rates will be agreed to.
.- This is a question of the utmost importance to all the States; but, as it has been very ably dealt with by the honorable member for Wide Bay and others, I do not propose unduly to prolong the debate. I must say at the outset that I have no intention of supporting the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier to include in this item Oregon and New Zealand pine.
– Then the honorable member for Barrier will consider whether he will give assistance to the Queensland sugar industry in the future.
– We get a little support in regard to the sugar industry. This is another matter that affects every State in the Commonwealth. I hope the honorable member does not regard it as of interest to Queensland alone. The duty proposed by the Government is exactly what the Tariff Commission recommended, and, generally speaking, we have endeavoured to keep as near to their recommendations as possible. I desire to place before the Committee some evidence given before the Commission. They say -
A Tasmanian saw-miller complained that the existing duty on dressed and undressed timber was insufficient protection for the local industry, and requested that on all classes of imported pine there should be an increase of 2s. per 100 feet super., or1s. per 100 lineal feet, of dressed timber 6 inches wide. - (H. Jones, Q. 35227-8.) In reply to a question, witness further stated that a majority of the saw-millers of Tasmania favoured an increase of 2s. per 100 feet super. 011 all pine, . dressed or undressed, including kauri, sugar pine, and spruce. - (Q. 35315-16.) A timber merchant in this State opposed any alteration in the existing duties, on the ground that the Tasmanian hardwood was about 7s. per 100 feet cheaper than the imported Oregon, and that the imposition of even 4s. per 100 would not make any difference in the sale of local hardwood-. - (Kemp, Q. 36158-63.)
The Commission also report -
In Western Australia a complaint was made that the Customs Department insisted upon duty being paid on the invoiced orignal rough measurement of American shelving (12 in. x 1 in.), while the actual measurement does not exceed111/2 in. x7/8 in. It was contended that the imposition of duty on a larger quantity of timber than actually goes through the Customs increases the cost to the consumer. - (Dove, Q. 40027.) He said importers decline to invoice at111/2 in. x 7/8 in., giving as a reason that they would not specially invoice for Australia. - (Q. 40042.) Under the Customs Act the authorities have no option ; but he complained that the Act was unjust. - (Q. 40102.)
I think that the question of measurement has been taken in hand by the Treasurer, and a rectification made to the satisfaction of the majority of honorable members. The report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission continues -
In the same State, the President of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce contended that the duty on Oregon and Baltic timber was excessive. - (Spencer, Q. 42436.)
As against this contention, the general manager of Millar’s Karri and Jarrah Company Ltd. complained of insufficient protection under the Commonwealth Tariff as against foreign timber, including New Zealand pine, and asked for the following duties : - New Zealand pine, sawn, 2S. per 100 super, feet ; New Zealand pine, dressed, 4s. per 100 super, feet ; Oregon, all sizes, undressed, 3s. per 100 super feet. - (Smith, Q. 45078, 45084.)
A timber merchant of Queensland asked that New Zealand timber should be placed on the same footing as timber from other countries. New Zealand white pine was being imported ostensibly for the making of butter boxes, but was being used for shelving and other purposes. - (Campbell, Q. 90761-73.) In the same State complaint was made by the Secretary of the Associated Timber Merchants that an entirely erroneous interpretation is placed on the meaning of the word “ superficial “ in the Tariff, inas much as it is field to mean “solid” instead of “ length and breadth,” without thickness.
The manager of a firm of timber merchants at Maryborough asked for a reversion to the State Tariff of Queensland. He complained of the free admission of New Zealand white pine, which in that country was encouraged by railway concessions to the extent of 40 or 50 per cent. Also of the competition of cheaper timbers, such as Oregon and Baltic. He estimated that there were about 15,000 persons dependent upon the timber industry in the Maryborough district, and of this number fully 3,000 men were directly employed. - (Green, Q. 92823-24- 25.) He also supported other witnesses as to the method adopted in assessing duties on dressed timbers under 1 inch in thickness. - (Q. 928832.)
Honorable members will see that in the neighbourhood of Maryborough alone 3,000 men are directly employed; and that this means a total of15,000 persons who depend for their living on this industry.
– How does the honorable member account for Mr. Campbell, the president of the association, declaring that he would not care twopence if there were no duty on white pine?
– That was only in connexion with butter boxes. .
– I am not aware that Mr. Campbell did say so ; but, at any rate, some honorable members will recollect that when the Tariff was under discussion in 1902, and this question was debated at great length, Parliament was, doubtless, in favour of a duty on New Zealand pine. But the proposed duty was lost by one vote owing to an error on the part of an honorable member. I do not know how the error occurred, but that honorable member certainly intended to vote in favour of a duty. I am informed that in nearly all the mines throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of mines at Broken Hill, local hardwood is being used.
– There are other places besides Broken Hill where only Oregon is used.
– But only to a small extent. I am told that at Broken Hill Oregon is regarded as more suitable owing to the peculiar formation of the country, or, perhaps, it may be, owing to the system of mining there adopted.
– Oregon timber gives the necessary warning.
– Yes, I am told that
Oregon “ talks,” as it is called, and thus gives warning when it is really weary of the burden, and likely to give way. I point out, however, that if hardwood were used, there would be no “ talking “ for the simple reason that it would last for ever, and, in the end, would prove really cheaper than Oregon. I desire to place the following letter and resolution before honorable members - 3rd October, 1907.
Enclosed is a copy of a resolution unanimously adopted by a representative meeting of saw-mill employers of Brisbane and surrounding districts. We invite your consideration of the same, and trust you will see your way clearto plead our cause as outlined in the said resolution.
We are, on behalf of the Committee,
Alexr. Shearr, Chairman
Newstead Terrace, Brisbane
Resolution unanimously adopted at a meeting of the saw-mill employes of Brisbane, held in the Albert Hall, Wednesday, 2nd October, 1907 : - “ That this meeting of saw-mill employes of Brisbane protest against any alteration . being made in the Tariffon foreign timber, and that we view with alarm the proposal made to the Minister for Customs by a deputation, including Mr. Sharp, of Messrs. Sharp and Sons, and Mr. Sutch, representing the Woodworker’s Association, to admit free of duty all timber of the sizes of 12 x 6 and over in Oregon pine, 7 x 21/2 and over in Baltic and Spruce deals, 8 in. superficial measurement and over in New Zealand pine, and all other timbers of6 x 2 and over. This would mean that practically the whole of the timber imported into the Commonwealth would come in duty free. To preserve the trade of Queensland and keep the men employed who are connected with the industry, it is absolutely necessary that the Tariff as proposed by the Minister for Customs be maintained ; and we earnestly hope the Commonwealth Government will succeed in doing so, thus affording some little protection to those engaged in the timber industry in Queensland.”
I do not know the exact number of men employed in this industry in and about Brisbane, but they are very numerous, and the timber-getters are more numerous still. Most of these men have wives and children, and everything they use or consume is heavily taxed.
– I am very glad to hear that occasionally these people enjoy good times, because what life could be harder than that of the timber-getters? I hope and trust that the Committee will be prepared to afford the encouragement which this industry deserves. As to the millers of Queensland not being able to execute orders, there may be some truth in the statements made. However, the fault is being remedied, and in the near future there will be no complaint on that score.
– I merely mentioned the fact because the millers will not take orders for a year ahead.
– Larger and more powerful plant is being procured, so as to enable the millers to directly increase the output. A further cause of the delay in executing orders is the difficulty of access to the forests of Queensland ; but the State Government, which went out of office two or three weeks ago, had prepared plans and specifications for ten or a dozen different railways, some of which were intended to tap the timber country. We may depend upon it that the present Government of Queensland, if they remain in office, will see that these proposed works are carried out. The session of the State Parlia ment commences shortly after Christmas ; and it has been stated by Mr. Philp that amongst the first business will be the passing of these Railway Bills, with a view to the early construction of the lines. In many parts of Queensland, there are inexhaustible supplies of timber of all kinds. In the Wide Bay, the Moreton, and the Darling Downs electorates’ there are immense supplies, which represent a valuable national asset, and which ought to be utilized in preference to timber from other countries. I appeal to honorable members to give this matter their most earnest consideration, in view of the fact that in Australia there is an abundant supply of timber, which is at all times a marketable commodity.
– It is rather strange to hear the fierce fight made against a proposal which, after all, does not represent more than 15 per cent.
– It amounts to 100 per cent. in the case of butter boxes.
– We are talking about a duty on Oregon pine, and a duty has been proposed which does not amount to more than 15 per cent. I do not intend to vote for high duties upon timber. So far, we have not imposed a protective duty of less than 15 per cent. upon any article in this Tariff. It has been stated during this debate that we are not in a position to supply our own requirements in respect of timber. That I absolutely deny. When I recently visited my own electorate I found that there were four vessels loading with timber, one bound for Mexico, another for South Africa, a third for Plymouth, and another for Dover. As a matter of fact, we are now exporting to South America, South Africa, and Europe, and yet we are told that we cannot supply the timber requirements of the Broken Hill mines. It has further been alleged that Australian hardwood is unsuitable for use in those mines. May I remind honorable members that in Tasmania are to be found some mines which are exceedingly difficult to work? The Tasmanian mine is admittedly one of the wettest in Australia. The pump upon it is draining the country for 5 miles around, and the ground is of a very treacherous nature. Notwithstanding this, however, there has never been 1,000 feet of . timber other than Tasmanian timber used in that mine. I recently saw a letter from the manager to that effect, and he further added that he had found Tasmanian timber exceedingly satisfactory for all purposes. I would also remind the Committee that the directors of the Mount Lyell mine are practically the same men who compose the directorate of the Broken Hill Proprietary mine. If it is dangerous to use Australian timber at Broken Hill, why did the Mount Lyell directors recently make a contract for the supply of Tasmanian timber “for all requirements?” As a matter of fact, I believe that more than 70 per cent. of the mines of the Commonwealth are using Australian timber. The one consideration which affects this question is the freight which is charged upon the Government railways. The honorable membue for Kooyong has pointed out that Tasmanian timber is twice as heavy as is Oregon. That is perfectly correct. But whilst a piece of Oregon of the same size as a piece of stringybark weighs only 34 lbs. as against 60 lbs., its breaking capacity is only 780 lbs. as against 1,220 lbs. So that a5 x 5 piece of Tasmanian hardwood is equal in strength to an 8 x 8 piece oforegon.
– Why is not Australian hardwood used in the Broken Hill mines? Mr. McWILLIAMS.- There is one mill in Tasmania which will supply the Broken Hill mines with all the timber that they require if the latter will only give it the contract.
– Why does not that mill supply them?
– Because the directors of the Broken Hill mines will not give it an opportunity to do so. The honorable member for Kooyong stated that the whole of the Broken Hill mines consumed about 15,000,000 superficial feet of timber per annum. I say that there is one mill in Tasmania which has been erected at a cost of about£100,000 by a Scottish company, and which is in a position to supply the whole of that timber immediately. The question is entirely one of freight upon the Government railways. It has been stated that Tasmanian timber is not suitable for the manufacture of fruit-boxes. In this connexion, I would point out that Tasmania produces 5 bushels of apples to every bushel produced in all the other States, andyet there is not an imported fruit-box used in the apple trade of that State. If the fruitgrowers of Australia are prepared to enter into a contract, the Tasmanian saw-mills can supply them with fruit-boxes, f.o.b.
Hobart, for 41/2d. each, landed in Sydney for 61/2d. each, and in Melbourne for 61/2d. each.
– They can be purchased for 61/2d. in Sydney.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has just received a telegram from one of the largest fruit dealers in New South Wales - I refer to Mr. Hunt - who states that the price of sin cases is1s. 2d., of half-bushel cases 7d., and of bushel cases10d. That information ought to be authentic. I cannot fail to recognise that in Australia to-day there are men who are receiving the advantage of abnormally high protective duties in respect of their own products, and who the moment they wish to send those products abroad put them into cases made of imported timber. Had the Treasurer asked for a 15 per cent. protective duty for any manufacturing industry, he would have been at once assailed with the charge that he would ruin it. In dealing out these protective duties, surely we ought to give the man in the bush a little “cut.” In visiting my own electorate recently I was. particularly struck with the fact that the position of the bushmen there to-day is better than it ever was previously.
– What wages are they paid ?
– The wages paid by the timber mills in the bush are not under 8s. per day, and in most cases the bushmen are provided with houses free of rent. So far, the big timber mill to which I have already referred has not made a profit of a single shilling, despite the large amount of capital whichhas been invested In it. I venture to say that if a manufacturer in Victoria occupied a similar position, this Committee would be doing its utmost to assist him in every possible way.
– What does it matter how the man in the bush fares, so long as the man in the trust does well.
– If the lot of any person is hard, surely it is that of the bushman. If the timber industry were located within the four walls of a city, this Committee would have extended to it a protection of from 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. Under these circumstances, we ought to give to the man in the bush the benefit of a protection of at least 15 per cent.
– I have listened with considerable interest to the appeal of the honorable member for Franklin on behalf of the bushmen, but I fail to see how the proposed duties would be of any assistance to that individual. In the production of hardwood it is undeniable that Australiacan hold its own against the world. At the present time we are not only supplying our own needs in that connexion, but we are finding a market for our timber outside our own Borders. Indeed, the drain upon our sleepers is of such a serious character that in New South Wales the Government is being urged to levy an export duty upon them.
– That is entirely the result of exportation from the North Coast.
– Yes. We are within measurable distance of the period when the available supplies will be exhausted.
– Only so far as the supply of a certain class of sleeper is concerned.
– Whilst we possess an immense quantity of timber - timber which is unequalled for certain purposes - we do not possess that wide variety that is necessary for supplying our own needs. We are compelled to import large quantities of soft woods in order to meet our requirements in that respect. The Committee may put heavy duties upon soft woods, but it is not in a position to replace them by any woods at present available in Australia. That importation must, to a greater or less extent, continue, and the taxation will simply act as a revenuereturning medium, increasing the price of the article to the consumer. I will admit that a great quantity of soft woods is used for a purpose to which, very likely, a considerable quantity of Australian wood could be devoted. But there remain the broad facts . which I have stated, and which honorable members seem to lose sight of, particularly the last speaker, in his plea for the Australian bush worker. At an earlier stage of the debate, a reference was made to the ruthless destruction of our valuable timbers. Pioneer occupation is purely pastoral; and pastoralists destroy timber for the purpose of increasing the carrying capacity of their country. In my electorate, places which were heavily timbered 35 or 40 years ago, have been served in that way. The ringbarker’s axe and the firestick have completely denuded vast areas of timber. In view of the increasing demand for timber as settlement has progressed that timber, if it had been allowed to stand or had been judi ciously thinned, would have been more valuable to-day than the land itself. That state of affairs obtains through large areas of the different States. Serious attention should be given to the question not only of preserving our timber supply, but also of increasing it by planting suitable Australian timber, and acclimatizing suitable timber from other countries. That question should speedily engage the attention of the States Governments. But the imposition of Customs duties with a view to increasing the supply of timber and bringing it to” market does not appeal to me as the correct method to remedy the evils from which we are suffering. Honorable members point to the large forests in Queensland and say, “ There are your supplies. All you have to do is to lock out the competing timber, and those supplies will be opened up.” Why are they not opened up under present conditions? On a previous occasion, when we were debating this matter, an honorable member said that the reason why the timber supplies of Queensland were not brought into use was because they were inaccessible. Who is going to make them accessible? As one honorable member has pointed out here, the value of timber has never appealed to the States Governments in the matter of railway construction. They will construct railways to develop the agricultural possibilities of the country, but when one calls their attention to the timber question, it does not appeal to them to nearly the same extent. I think that something may be done in the direction of developing our forests by making them more accessible, and bringing them more readily within the points of consumption than they are at the present time. But I do not see that the imposition of duties is likely to do very much in that way. It will punish the user without materially assisting the man who wants to develop our timber resources. These duties fall very heavilyupon, first, the mining industry, secondly, the agricultural industry, more particularly its dairying and fruitgrowing branches, and thirdly, on the general community in regard to house-building and other timber work. A very strong appeal has been made on behalf of themining industry by the honorable member for Barrier. Imported timbers enter, perhaps, more largely into use in the Broken Hill mines than in any of the other mines. I understand that in Western Australia they are used’ to some extent, and now, as mines like the Cobar mine have got to greater depths, and are meeting with greater difficulties, the disposition is to use Oregon timber. I think that the appeal of the honorable . member for Barrier ought to have weight with” honorable members. It is not merely a question of cheapness, but a question of safeguarding human life. The honorable member has indicated the peculiar character of the mining which is carried on at Broken Hill, and how Oregon timber operates in giving timely warning before a fall takes place. That is a consideration which appealed to the previous Parliament, and which, I hope, will have weight with this Parliament. According to a comment in a recent issue of the Argus, the increased cost of timber to one company at Broken’ Hill will, at their present rate of consumption, amount’ to about £2,200 per annum, and the other companies have the same impost to meet. With the increased duties on mining machinery and timber, it is estimated that the six companies in Broken Hill will have an increased charge of about .£33,000 to meet.
– We are told that the duty ought to make the prices cheaper.
– According to the protectionists, it ought to cheapen the prices, but this is one of the instances where that does not work out. That fact ought to appeal to my protectionist friends, who believe in the cheapening argument; because it does not operate here. On the contrary, the duty helps to make the operations of the great mining industry at Broken Hill more difficult and expensive, particularly in view of the fact that it has to meet a rapidly depreciating metal market. Do honorable members realize that by the imposition of these duties they are loading one of Australia’s most important primary industries, and one which in the markets of the world has suffered a depreciation of about £90,000,000 in the value of its metal production, as compared with the prices which obtained last year? That depreciation dates from the beginning of the present year, and, so far. as we can judge, it is likely to continue for some time. On the top of that the Government seek to load the Broken Hill mines to the extent of £33,000 per annum, and a large proportion of that sum represents the increased price which they will have to pay for timber supplies. The same thing applies to Cobar. In the case of one machinery order given there, the Customs taxation represented about £25,000, being an increase of £17,000 on the amount payable under the old Tariff. Now that the Cobar company have got to a greater depth, and are meeting with more difficult ground, they will be compelled to use Oregon timber. Hitherto they have been using with advantage Australian timber; but under this Tariff, their operations will be further loaded. That means that a large number of mining operations will be reduced from a payable to a non-payable basis. . As soon as the latter stage is reached, they will close down. Thousands of working men will thus be adversely affected by the Tariff, as compared with the comparatively few timber getters who will secure any advantage .therefrom. The requirements of the dairying industry should also be taken into serious consideration. Any one who is acquainted with the handling of butter knows that it is at once affected by contact with any odorous substance. It is undeniable that the timber used for boxing the article for export should be absolutely free from resin, or any of those substances which so readily affect its condition. It becomes a question of where that timber is to be secured suitably, and at what particular price. It is estimated that the Customs duties will increase the price of the butter boxes to the extent of about 2jd. each, or to the extent of 5d. per 112 lbs. of butter. The industry has had a very big fight with a shipping monopoly, and only recently, as the result of the action of this House in approving of a mail contract, which prescribes the rate for the carriage of butter, has any reduction been made. Still a 0 very considerable freight has to be paid for the carriage of the article which, I may mention, was exported last year to the extent of 140,000,000 lbs. If that quantity is repeated this year, every one hundredweight exported will bear an increased cost of sd. as an automatic effect of the operation of this Tariff. That is an instance of the way in which the butter industry is being loaded. We have had circulars setting out to what extent other industries are being adversely affected, notably the coachbuilding and carriage industry, in which a large number of people are engaged throughout the Commonwealth. It is an industry that is not limited to the big cities. Almost every town has its coach and buggy factory. These men tell us that under this Tariff their trade will be completely ruined for the reason that they are compelled to import certain timbers, especially from America, that are suitable to this kind of work, and that no timber grown within the Commonwealth can replace them. The imposition of this taxation, therefore, must restrict their trade, and in many instances practically annihilate it. Here is an instance where taxation falls heavily upon the poorer man. The man who can use his four-wheel conveyance will not have to pay so much as the man who is compelled to be satisfied with a sulky; and nearly every farmer in the country districts has a sulky to do his light work. The duty will fall as a very heavy impost upon nearly all our primary industries, and it will give no compensation in the opposite direction. I invite the attention of the Committee to the representations made to the Tariff Commission by those who are interested in this business, not merely as consumers, but as sawmillers and as workmen who use imported timbers. I find that the Adelaide Saw-mills Woodworkers’ Association and the Victorian representatives of a like association appeared before the Tariff Commission. Their recommendations were that Oregon 12 x 6 and over should be free; that deals, baltic, in the solid, 7 x z and over should be free; that red pine, Ca’lifornian, 7x3 and over should be free; and pine, American, clear sugar, and yellow, 7x3 should be free. We have a circular issued and signed by the chairman of the Timber Merchants’ Association of Melbourne, and by the secretary of the Federated Sawmillers and Timberyard and General Woodworkers’ Employes Asociation, Mr. W. G. Sharp and Mr. James Sutch respectively. They recommend that baltic and spruce deals, Californian red pine, sugar pine, yellow pine, oregon pine, and New Zealand pines over 8 inches superficial measurement, should be placed upon the free list. If there were not a substantial reason for asking that these timbers should be free, it is not likely that these men would make such a proposal, for they are protectionists, and want protection upon every other line but this.
– They are protectionists when it suits themselves.
– So far as I can judge, every man professing protectionist principles in this Committee is a protectionist when it suits himself, and a free-trader when it does not.
– No; when it suits the country.
– Some people’s ideas of what suits the country do not reach beyond their own personality. The honorable member for Wide Bay is prepared to allow certain timbers to come in free, but he wants them to be imported in the log. But log timber cannot be introduced except at very heavy expense. It is very difficult to handle, and there is considerable waste connected with it. So difficult is it to handle, and so great the waste and the consequent loss, that, as has been pointed out, the quotations for log timber and cut are practically identical on the Australian market. - The timber can best be shipped in bulk and most easily handled when it has been squared and the waste parts reduced. That is the form in which the sawmillers and the industries most concerned ask for it. I hope that the Committee will not be unreasonable about this matter, but will exercise a wise discretion, and be guided by the recommendation of practical people. I trust that the)’ will especially have in view the interests of the Broken Hill miners, and those engaged in the dairying and similar industries, who. whilst they do what they can to encourage the development of an Australian timber trade, cannot profitably use Australian timber for certain special purposes.
– I think that the interests of those concerned in the Australian timber trade will not suffer at the hands of this Parliament. Every honorable member who has spoken appears to have made a study of the qualities of various kinds of timber, and the purposes for which they can be used. There is a desire to give an impetus to a trade which will ultimately .do a great deal of good to Australia. But we have to concern ourselves with the present as well as with the future; and, on consulting the Tariff, I find that the Government have actually proposed heavy increases upon the very high Tariff that was introduced several years ago. Thev have proposed a 200 per cent, increase on one line, 300 per cent, on another, and further increases of 25, 50, and 150 per cent. So that the Government are proposing to increase these duties up to the enormous extent of 300 per cent, upon the former duties charged, and this for the purpose of bringing into use timbers that cannot be grown in Australia to take the place of the imported’ timbers for at least twenty years. The honorable member for Cowper made a most excellent speech. After he had finished, I had a conversation with him on the subject, and he told me that he knew a tree that took twenty-eight years to grow to a condition when it would be fit for cutting. If we are going to charge these excessive duties, in addition to the high duties charged under the old Tariff, we shall be doing what is not justified. But when timber of our own,’ suitable for the purposes which have been mentioned during the course of the debate, is fit for cutting, those interested in having certain duties imposed for the benefit of the industry are not likely to have anything to fear at the hands of such a Parliament as this. The country, however, has much to fear if we are to increase existing duties by 200 and 300 per cent. Who will pay those duties? We have been informed that they will necessitate the mines of Broken Hill increasing their payments in duties to the extent of £12,000 a year. Here is a native industry that has done a great deal to benefit Australia. Broken Hill came to the assistance of South Australia when she badly required a fillip. The mines have benefited every State in the Union. These duties will mean that the smaller mines, which are not so remunerative as are the others, will probably have to close down. Surely that will injure rather than benefit Australia. Furthermore, we shall lose a considerable amount of revenue. We are told that there is good timber in Tasmania. My good friend the honorable member for Denison has put in a word for the blue gum of his State. It is not necessary for us to run down our own timbers. My honorable friend tells me that Tasmanian blue gum is as good a timber as any that is used in our mines. But, unfortunately, it is open to the objection of being three ‘ times the weight of Oregon.
– No; barely twice the weight. ‘
– Even if it is twice the weight of Oregon, it means twice the freight upon a given quantity of timber going to Broken Hill. That is a severe handicap. Are we going to place a handicap upon our industries because, unfortunately, we have not a light native timber to take the place of Oregon ? It is one of the disabilities under which we labour. I have no doubt that in time lighter timbers will be grown in Australia to take the place of those now imported. But, in the meantime, do not let us penalize small mining companies that are living, so to speak, from hand to mouth. While the honorable member for Barrier, was making his able speech, I myself thought of those who have taken their millions out of the best mines in Broken Hill, and asked the question, “Why should they not be required to pay something for what they have obtained ? ‘ ‘ But the best point which the honorable member made in his speech was in meeting that objection. He had been speaking of the great mines. He then referred to. the small mines, which employ thousands of men. We shall throw those thousands of men out of employment if we impose heavytaxation with the idea of conserving an industry for supplying timber that is not yet planted.
– That would be a wonderfully sound argument if the mines could not get their timber in tree. But they can get Oregon in free now.
– Yes, they can get their Oregon in free in the log. But there is so much waste in a log of timber that it is more economical to import it cut. It is not business to bring to Australia at enormous expense an immense amount of lumber, much of which has to be thrown away. The honorable member for Wide Bay has reminded us that New Zealand has imposed restrictive legislation regarding the export of her timber. We are penalized because of that legislation. Well, these chickens will come home to roost. They will come home in our case in the future, and they will come home to New Zealand. New Zealand grows a kind of timber - white pine - which is better than any other wood- for the making of butter boxes. Are we going to injure the great dairying industry that has done so much for New South Wales, Victoria, and, in fact, every State in the Union, and that in the future will do ten times as much as it has done in the past? We shall penalize that industry if we carry these duties, not only by putting a tax upon the wood from which the butter boxes are made, but also, possibly, by encouraging the use of another timber that is inferior - a timber that will give an objectionable flavour to the butter. As soon as we give people abroad the idea that we cannot make butter equal in quality to that which they get from the Continent of Europe, our product will suffer in price.
– Does the honorable member suggest that in that respect Queensland timber is defective?
– Recently a butter box made of Tasmanian hardwood was placed on view in this building, and when my attention was drawn to it by the honorable member for Franklin I communicated with butter factory managers in my electorate with the view of ascertaining whether this timber was suitable for the purpose. The replies I received were to the effect that it tainted the butter and could not be used. If we have a suitable timber for this purpose in Australia, by all means let us use it, but I am not prepared to penalize an industry by declaring that it shall use unsuitable timber.
– Did the men of whom the honorable member sought this information speak from practical experience?
– The honorable member suggests that I did not fully investigate the question. I would remind him that when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration it was thoroughly investigated and discussed in this House, and I think we were then all agreed that Australian timber was inferior to New Zealand white pine for butter boxes.
– Decidedly not. I shall have to repeat the facts adduced on that occasion. It is simply a matter of prejudice against Australian timber.
– Is the honorable member aware that butter sent to the Old Country this year in a Queensland pine box took first prize in competition against the world?
– I am very glad to hear it. I remember that when the first Federal Tariff was before us the honorable member for Wide Bay and other representatives of Queensland brought under the notice of the Committee the hoop pine grown in that State, which they said was eminently suitable for butter boxes. I forget for the moment what were the grounds of the objection to its use for that purpose, but I think that the question of cost as well as the flavour that it was said to impart to the butter had something to do with it.
– Certificates from London show clearly that Queensland pine is excellent for butter-box making.
– As an Australian I always give first place to that which is Australian, but the representatives of Queensland have not yet satisfied the trade that Queensland pine is the most acceptable for butter boxes.
– In Queensland butter boxes are made almost exclusively of it.
– But it has not been shown that its use is more profitable than is the use of New Zealand white pine.
– That is another matter.
-It has just been hinted to me by an honorable member that my statement that Queensland pine boxes taint the butter packed in them is correct, and he has gone in search of data to support that statement.
– How is it, then, that butter packed in a box made of Queensland pine took the first prize in England?
– I do not wish to deal further with that phase of the question.
– The honorable member is libelling the Queensland timber.
– The timber getters of Queensland are having a rosy time. Some of them pay a mere bagatelle for the right to cut timber in the forests of that State, and I have vet to learn that they cannot compete against the world in the matter of hardwood. They have the marketto themselves, and need no duty. In some cases the Government propose an increase of between 200 per cent, and 300 per cent, on the old timber duties. Such excessive imposts will penalize the staple industries of Australia. They will retard progress and injure the country, and it is also proposed to impose them on timber, a substitute for which for certain purposes we cannot produce in Australia. I hope that the Government will not press their proposals, and that if they do the Committee will insist upon material reductions.
.- It is not a matter for surprise that the timber duties should have so long absorbed the attention of the Committee, because I can bear testimony that no branch of the Tariff gave me and my colleagues so much difficulty as did the task of investigating this question and arriving at a conclusion as to what duties should be proposed. In the report of the protectionist section of the Commission attention is drawn to the difficulty that we experienced, owing to the conflict of interests, in endeavouring to do justice all round. In the first place, we had to consider the timber getters in the forest, and the saw -millers and the saw-mill employes there. Then we had to consider the timber merchants in the cities and the towns, as well as their employes, who are anxious that the sawing should be done there instead of in the forests. Finally, we had to take into account the interests of the users of the timber, and particularly those of two or three groups of consumers comprising users of butter boxes and fruit boxes. On the whole, therefore, we had a very complex problem to solve, and its complexity has been reflected during this debate. I subscribed formally, with considerable doubt, to the recommendation that a duty of 1s.6d. per 100 superficial feet should be imposed on timber undressed in sizes of 12 inches by 6 inches and over. In doing so, I yielded to the opinion of my colleagues who joined with me in signing the recommendation. In framing a report, one has sometimes to subordinate one’s views to those of others, and I did so in this case with the reservation that I should have a free hand in the House in regard to, not only the rate of duty, but the mode of measurement. I am not bound absolutely to all our recommendations; they are merely suggestions which the Committee may accept or modify. I take leave, therefore, to differ in matters of detail in respect to which I have grave doubts.. I say frankly that so far as paragraph a is concerned, I had at the outset grave doubts as to the amount of the duty, and those doubts have been confirmed by this debate. As to New Zealand white pine, I think there should be no exemption, and the only doubt I have in that regard is as to the amount of the duty. It is unfair to Australian timber to give a preference to any outside timber.
– New Zealand is a part of Australasia.
– It is no part of the Commonwealth.
– Are we to increase the cost of butter boxes?
– That point has been discussed over and over again. It is not desirable to allow New Zealand white pine to be imported free, because, as is shown by the scientific evidence placed before the Tariff Commission in Brisbane, Queensland pine is equally good for making butter boxes. Mr. J. C. Brunnich, Agricultural Chemist of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock, made analyses of butter box timbers, the results of which are given atpage 549 of volume
The watery extracts of the two Queensland pines and the New Zealand white pine, which were obtained by letting sawdust of these timbers soak for twenty-four hours in water, were almost tasteless, meaning that the extracts had only the very slightest woody taste, and there was no difference between the three samples. The extracts of the Queensland timbers were quite colourless, and that of the New Zealand pine of a light-yellow colour.
The amounts of extractive matters taken up by the water, of special importance in the use of these timbers for butter boxes, are the lowest in the Queensland timber, particularly in the second well-seasoned sample, which is to be considered in their favour.
Another point of importance is the amount of water absorbed by the timbers, and, again, the manner in which such water is given off when the timbers are exposed to the air, as a criterion of the porosity and capillarity of such timbers. The experiments show that no difference exists in regard to these properties between our Queensland and the New Zealand pine.
I have read that report in justice to the Queensland timber, because it has been suggested in the course of the debate that it gives forth a certain aroma which injuriously affects the butter placed in it. As to the price of the Queensland pine, let me quote the evidence of Mr. George Brown, the managing director forBrown and Brown, Brisbane - question 90994 -
Can you say what would be the increased cost of butter-boxes if the duty of1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet, which you suggest, were imposed, and assuming that the whole duty were passed on to the users of timber for this purpose? - The increased cost would be from 11/4d. to11/4d. per box.
That is not much. He went on to say -
We do not anticipate that if the duty were imposed the price of butter-boxes in the south would be increased at the outside by more than 11/2d. each.
In view of the possibly slight increase in cost to which he refers, I think that it would be well to reduce the duty from 1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet to, say,1s. or 9d. That would put the two timbers comparatively on a level. I am altogether against placing New Zealand white pine on the free list, and by singling It out from amongst the timbers of the world, giving it a statutory preference. It would be a great injustice to the Queensland industry to do that, andif I were a representative of Queensland I would strongly object to any such treatment. Whilst I am prepared to treat alike all importations of timber in sizes 12 x 6 or over–
– Why in those sizes?
– Because they are the sizes in which timber is generally imported, to be cut up into smaller sizes.
– Does the importation of New Zealand white pine reduce the sale of Queensland timber?
– Unquestionably it is now difficult to obtain Queensland timber. I have complaints to that effect from makers of butter boxes, case-makers, and moulding-makers, all of whom acknowledge the high quality and great value of the Queensland pine. It cannot be denied that the timber industry in Queensland has not yet been properly developed, and that it may take some years to develop it ; but we should do our best to give prominence to the merits of the timber, and to assist the industry. Let me read a letter, dated 5th August, addressed to a Melbourne firm by Messrs. Lahey Brothers, Townsville branch. The Melbourne firm had written, to the Brisbane representative of Messrs. Lahey Brothers, offering a big order for ballygum, caloon, and pine -
Ballygum and Caloon. - We would only be too pleased to enter a contract with you for your supplies for1908 for both these timbers, but owing to the uncertainty of log supplies could not undertake to do so, in fairness to you and ourselves.
Pine: - We may point out that the agency for this timber has been passed on to Messrs. Davies and Fehon, and orders placed with them are distributed among the Brisbane or Maryborough millers, as they find the millers here and at Maryborough capable of filling such orders, and owing to the unprecedented demand for pine, every saw-miller here is, with difficulty, able to keep pace with the orders.
The fact that there is delay in filling orders is not a reason for admitting New Zealand pine free ; but it is a reason for reducing the duty on it to1s. or 9d. I advise the representatives of Queensland not to ask for too large a duty, for fear of creating a prejudice against their timber. A lower duty than that proposed should place the two timbers on an equality of competition, so that it could not be said that butterboxes made of Queensland timber cost11/2d. or11/4d. more than butter-boxes made of New Zealand pine. This will tend to popularize Queensland timber.
– Does the honorable member consider 1 5 per cent, a high rate ?
– We have discriminated between raw materials and the finished product. The duty on timber in the rough should not be as great as that upon dressed timber.
– The honorable member’s idea is that timber should be imported in the rough, to be cut up here?
– I should like it to be cut up here, if that can be done without injury to any local industry. I shall oppose the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier to make Oregon and white pine free, and shall vote for a duty of is. or 9d. per 100 superficial feet on sizes 12 x 6 and over. A duty of1s. 6d. would be too high.
.- It must be admitted that timber is becoming much scarcer in Victoria than it used to be. The cost of timber for mining purposes at Ballarat andBendigo has been greatly increased during the last few years. We had some splendid forests in this State, which have been destroyed by the burning off of the timber on the land being thrown open to selection. The timber on the land in the Cape Otway forest is worth from £20 to £30 per acre, but in order to promote settlement the State Government have been selling the land at£1 an acre, and allowing the timber to be rung and burnt, when they might just as well have cut the timber first and promoted the settlement afterwards. Every one admits that the Australian hardwoods are as good as any timber in the world for certain purposes ; but when we consider the special method of timbering adopted in the Broken Hill mines I believe it must be admitted that there is no timber equal tooregon for the purposes to which it is applied there. Throughout this session we have been piling up the duties on the mining industry, and just as it is the last chop that falls the tree it may happen that the timber duty will prove to be the last tax required to bring about the closing down of some of our mines.
– What about the timber getter ?
– The timber getter receives better wages now than he ever did before in Australia, because the price of timber has increased. Owing to the increased price of lead, wages in the Broken Hill mines have been increased 121/2 per cent. Do honorable members desire that that rate of wages should be decreased ? I do not think that they do; but a drop of £2 per ton in the price of lead might mean a decrease in wages, or the closing down of some of the mines. The mining com munity can stand no more taxation than we have so far put upon them, and I am sure honorable members do not wish to break die back of the mining industry by imposing upon it this last straw in the shape of an increase in the duty on timber. It would be, in my opinion, a great mistake to refuse to allow Oregon timber to be admitted free, or to impose upon it any increase in the duty levied under the old Tariff. One honorable member has “said that 5,000,000 superficial feet of New Zealand pine imported for the manufacture of butter boxes was used for other purposes. I find that last year 16,871,000 tons of butter were exported from Victoria, and any one who takes the trouble to make the calculation will find that it would take exactly 5,000,000 superficial feet of pine to make the boxes required for the export of that quantity of butter. It is therefore clear that the whole of the pine imported into Victoria must have been used in the manufacture of butter boxes, and that being so there has been no fraud upon the Customs in this State. The honorable member lor Cowper made some reference to the time within which a tree might be cut after planting, and I can inform the Committee that I know of a property upon which a great deal of tree planting has been done, and that blue and red gums planted on that property from thirty-three to thirty-five years ago, and growing on good soil, are not yet fit to cut.
– If the honorable member will come with me to the north coast of New South Wales I can show him trees 7 feet 6 inches in girth which are only three years old.
– That would, no doubt, be a different kind of timber, and I am talking of blue and red gum.
– That country cannot be like the New South Wales country.
– I think that the Western District of Victoria is as good as any other district in Australia. It is looked upon as the cream of this State ; and in the Cape Otway forest there are as fine trees as any I have ever seen. Red gum trees must be nearly fifty years of age before they are -fit to cut for sleepers. When we consider the length of time it will take to re-afforest this country, it is useless for honorable members to suggest that we can soon grow timber for our own use. Mines cannot be carried on unless they are properly timbered, and after many experiments it has been found that oregon is the best timber for mining purposes. I agree with the honorable member for Barrier in saying that this timber should be admitted free, or at least that there should be no increase in the duty imposed under the old Tariff. I have here particulars of a cargo of soft woods that arrived since this Tariff > was introduced by; a vessel called the Harpsjord. The quantity amounted to 1,583,000 superficial feet, according to the actual measurement on the ship, but according to the Customs measurement under the present Tariff, it amounted to 2,691,000 superficial feet. At 3s. per 100 superficial foot, the duty on that one cargo comes to over .£4,000, or an increase on one cargo of timber of £1,660 upon the duty payable under the old Tariff. That seems to me to be too great an increase in the duty imposed on an article required for our natural industries. The Govern* ment claim to be a protectionist Government, and yet they propose to tax our natural industries. It should be remembered that in the production of butter, lead, and copper we have to depend on an export trade, and must compete with the world. The honorable member for Darling, in the interests of mining at Cobar, was influenced by ‘the reasons which appealed to the honorable member for Barrier, when applied to the conditions existing at Broken Hill. I do not call it protection to tax the raw materials required by the natural industries of this country. I consider that I am as good a protectionist as is any member of the Ministry, but I do not favour taxing the raw materials required in the development of our natural industries, and for the export of our natural productions. If we are to tax the mining industry out of existence, and so turn hundreds of thousands of miners out of work, the sooner we close up this Parliament the better it will be for the country.
.- Notwithstanding the time which has been taken up in this debate, I think it will be generally admitted that the importance of the subject justifies the attention which has been given to it. Timber is required in almost every industry in the Commonwealth, and the imposition of duties which might render it more difficult to obtain it should not be decided upon without full discussion. It seems to me that, up to the present, a plea has been put forward . for the consideration of every industry in the Commonwealth, with the exception of the dairying industry. Very little has, so far, been said on behalf of that industry. From my investigations of the timber resources of Australia, I am proud that Queensland is one of the States of the Commonwealth. Still, from the information recently received, it is clear that the supplies of Queensland timbers for the various uses to which they are put within the Commonwealth are deficient. I have seen correspondence which shows that people who required Queensland timber have been unable to obtain it in sufficient quantities, and that is borne out by my personal investigations. I do not propose to enter upon a discussion of the uses to which various kinds of timber can be applied in the Commonwealth. The question we are discussing is one which affects every man who has to build a house, and the whole of our manufacturing industries. It is of importance, indeed, to the whole of our industrial and social progress. It seems to me that it is very unwise at this early stage in the history of the Common-, wealth to restrict our people to the use of particular kinds of timber, in view of the fact that the use of a variety of timbers is necessary to our industrial progress if the Commonwealth is to keep pace with other parts of the world. The honorable member for Barrier has dealt effectively with the question as it affects the mining industry, whilst the honorable member for Cowper has ably submitted all the claims that might be put forward on behalf of the duties as proposed in the Tariff. The dairying industry is one of the most important industries in Victoria, and must depend solely on an export trade for its existence. Whilst I am always prepared to impose duties to increase local production, more particularly when it is for the supply of the local market, I contend that the export of butter requires that that industry should be placed in a different category. Every penny of increase added to the cost of production becomes a most serious handicap to the dairying industry, since the product of the industry must find a sale in the markets of the world. An honorable member asks me how much per lb. these duties would add to the price of butter? If they would add only id. to the cost of a butter box that would be a serious matter in disposing’ of the product of an industry which has to compete against the world, in view of the more economical style of living adopted by people engaged in the production of butter in places like Denmark. The evidence taken by the Tariff Commission shows that the use of Queensland pine would mean an increase of 1 1/2d. per box as against the cost involved in the use of New Zealand pine; and th* increase in the price of “New Zealand timber which has taken place recently means & very substantial increase on the figures sup* plied to the Tariff Commission with respect to Queensland pine. The raw material for the manufacture of butter boxes is to bt restricted apparently to Queensland and New Zealand pine. Considering the difficulty there is in getting a sufficient supply of timber from Queensland, the use of Queensland pine will involve an increase in the cost of butter boxes; and on the other hand, if New Zealand pine is used, the cost of the boxes must be increased to the amount of the increase proposed in the duty. In this matter we can scarcely regard New Zealand in the light in which we are justified in regarding foreign countries. The timber industry is carried on in New Zealand under conditions similar to those which prevail in Australia. The Dominion is a part of the Australasian group, and if there is to be any special consideration given to outsiders it might well be given to New Zealand. The great butter industry of the Commonwealth, which, I understand, is worth from ,£8,000,000 to ^9,000,000 per annum, is one which should receive consideration in this connexion, having regard to the extent to which it is dependent on the export trade. In the circumstances, I think that New Zealand pine should be admitted to the Commonwealth free. I admit the tremendous possibilities of the timber industry of Queensland, and that they have not been availed of to a. greater extent is due to the fact that the State Government have not carried railways into the interior to make it possible to bring the timber to market. If the State Government had adopted a sufficiently progressive policy, and had run railways into the at present inaccessible forests, so that Queensland might be able to supply all the requirements of the Commonwealth in respect of timber at a reasonable price, there would be some justification for the imposition of a .reasonable duty upon importations of over-sea timber in the interests of the industry in the northern State. If the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Barrier be pressed to a division, I’ shall support it.
.- I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Wimmera on the splendid freetrade speech which he has just delivered. It was practically the same speech as that which I have delivered here on different occasions in support of the interests of those engaged’ in the dairying industry, which is one of our primary industries, and has done so much for the welfare of Australia. I have been delighted to find that one of the strongest protectionists in the House has come to believe in what I have put before this Committee time after time. The honorable member has acknowledged openly and honestly that the effect of the imposition of this duty on white New Zealand pine is to increase, the cost of butter boxes to the dairy farmers who have to compete in the world’s market. We have had representations from those engaged in the dairying industry which go to show that the result of the duty has already been to raise the price of butter boxes by 3d. This is a very serious addition to the duties which the dairy farmer already has to pay. Now that the honorable member for Wimmera recognises that imposts of this sort handicap the dairying industry as against its competitors in the world’s markets, he ought to endeavour to remove the other duties under which it is suffering.
– What about the rebate on butter boxes?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has attempted four or five times to explain that, but has not been able to find a way by which the rebate will reach the proper pockets. When the Minister can give the Committee definite information, we may discuss it. If the honorable member for Wimmera, in connexion with the other duties under which our great primary industries are labouring, had taken the same sensible view as he has taken in this instance, and if other protectionists in this House had done the same, our producers who have to compete in the world’s markets would be getting a much better deal. All those concerned in the great primary industries depend for the price of their produce on the price ruling in the world’s markets. Every increase of expense, whether on butter boxes. salt, or other materials which they use in their industries or in building their houses, tends to handicap them, seeing that they have to ship their produce across many thousand miles of ocean to compete with other producers who are within a few days’ sail of the world’s markets’. I congratulate the honorable member for Wimmera on the stand he has taken, and am sorry that he did not see the same reason for conversion from his fiscal faith when dealing with other duties that affect our great primary industries. A good deal has been said regarding the values of New Zealand white pine and Queensland pine for the making of boxes for the exportation of butter. The quotation made by the Chairman of the Tariff Commission practically bore out the evidence given before us that, when Queensland pine is properly seasoned- it requires a great deal more seasoning than does the New Zealand pine - its effect on the butter is practically the same as that of the New Zealand pine. But we had very strong evidence that the Queensland pine is a much more difficult wood to handle, and very much heavier, and therefore the freight would be higher on butter boxes made from it. But even supposing that it was equal in all respects to the New Zealand white pine, there is the evidence given by witness after witness representing the timber industry in New South Wales and Victoria, that the Queensland timber millers are absolutely unable to fulfil the orders sent to them. The question is whether we are going to handicap our dairy farmers by keeping out the New Zealand pine, which is absolutely necessary, for the manufacture of the boxes, when a sufficient supply of Queensland pine is utterly unavailable for the purpose. Not only in Queensland, but in northern New South Wales a large quantity of this excellent pine is grown, but in many instances it is in most inaccessible places, and neither the New South Wales nor Queensland State Governments have done anything to develop those forests.
– Some of the Governments have humbugged the growers.
– It was stated that the men engaged in that industry had been humbugged a great deal by the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland. On page 573 of the Minutes of Evidence appears the following statement from Mr. John Leigh Jones, the wellknown sawmiller connected with the Austral Box and Timber Company Limited, of Sydney - 95013. Has your company ever sought quotations from the mills of Queensland and the Northern rivers of New South Wales for butterbox timber in large quantities? - Yes. They cannot give us the quantities we require. If we needed 1,000,000 feet of timber, dry, we could not get it from them, but we could get 1,000,000 feet of white pine stripped and seasoned from New Zealand.
That evidence was given in 1906. But, to show that Queensland is absolutely not in a position to supply its own local requirements, I may quote a statement from a letter written by Mr. Jones in Sydney only last month. It proves that time after time, and even this season, when there is a bigger development in connexion with the production of pine in Queensland, the Queensland people have given large orders in Sydney for butter boxes to be taken to Brisbane for packing their produce for exportation to the world’s markets: In that letter it is stated that -
Queensland last season drew from this State about 100,000 white pine boxes. One firm supplied about 50,000 boxes, and we supplied a considerable quantity ourselves. The Secretary of the Queensland Millers’ Association admits they only exported in all about 2,030,000 super feet of hoop pine, of which only a very small proportion was for butter boxes. (We, ourselves, used five million super. feet last year.) If they could supply their own factories, why did they call on us to supply them? We were informed by the factories buying from us in Queensland that they would not get supplies from their local box makers in time.
The simple position, therefore, is that by imposing duties on New Zealand pine we shall, according to the admissions even of protectionist members, raise the price of the butter boxes to the dairy farmers. Already by reason of the duty the price of butter boxes has been raised by 3d. A sufficient quantity of timber is not available in Queensland and northern New South Wales to meet the demands of the Queensland market alone, much less the great markets of New South Wales and Victoria. I hope that the Government, in the interests of the great dairying industry, which has done so much for Australia, and particularly for Victoria, will agree to the proposition of the honorable member for Barrier, and allow oregon to come in free in the interests of the miners, and New Zealand pine to come in free in the interests of the dairy farmers.
.- I echo the sentiments uttered by the honorable member for Illawarra. 1 am also delighted to find that the honorable members for Balaclava and Wimmera, who are strong protectionists, have thrown their influence into the movement for admitting this timber free. The great industries of min ing and dairying are interested in this question. There can be. no doubt that this timber is really the raw material of those great industries to which the Commonwealth owes so much. The honorable member for Bendigo appealed on party lines to the Queensland members to vote with him in imposing a heavier duty than those industries deserve or demand. My namesake, the honorable member for Calare, has supplied me with the following statement, which proves that Queensland does not supply even an appreciable proportion of the enormous quantity of softwood used in the Commonwealth -
The imports to Australia of soft woods are 115,000,000 ft. per annum. Queensland can only supply 4,000,000 ft. at their own price, which has been advanced 50 per cent, within the last two years.
I have also a document from Mr. John Ramsay, the chairman of the Australasian Marbut Carving Company, who states -
Since the new Tariff came into operation timber merchants have increased the price of ballygum and caloon from 16s. 8d. to 24s. per 100; hoop pine from19s. 3d. to 21s. 6d. ; silky oak from 20s. to 40s., and other woods in proportion, and even at these figures they cannot execute orders.
When such an enormous quantity of timber is being imported, of such vital necessity to almost every industry in the community, surely the Treasurer will not have any objection to allowing it to come in free. If any other documentary evidence were wanted to convince the Committee of the advisability of adopting the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier, it is supplied in a circular, emanating from Broken Hill Chambers, and signed by Mr. W. G. Sharp, chairman of the Melbourne and Suburban Timber Merchants’ Association, and by Mr. James Sutch, secretary of the Federated Saw-mill and Timber-yard and General Woodworkers’ Employes’ Association of Australasia. When two great interests are working together in that way - and we should all be glad to see it–
– Does the honorable mem- ber agree with all the statements in the schedule attached to that circular ?
– I have not read the whole of the schedule, nor do I intend to. I am dealing with Oregon and New Zealand pine. When those people who represent the section of which the honorable member is leader, and the other people with whom I have the honour of being associated have come to an agreement - when the two great contracting parties have arrived at a decision - the Committee might well abide by it.
.- It would be worth the while of the Committee to get back to facts. The whole of the argument to-day has been that this particular timber should be admitted free. It is free in this Tariff, and has been from the first. It is free now. The raw material is free, as the log timber is free.
– It does not pay to import it in the log form.
– What principle did the honorable member for Bendigo lay down regarding these proposals? We have been told that there is a symmetry about the Tariff - that raw materials are charged a small duty, the partly-finished article a higher duty, the finished article a still higher duty, and articles of luxury and adornment the highest duty of all.
– Big logs are very hard to ship.
– Log timber is shipped from Queensland every day, and surely it can be just as easily shipped from New
Zealand. Let us be fair and honest–
– Let the honorable member be fair in his argument.
– Let us be fair and honest, and tell the people of Australia that, while the log may be admitted free of duty, we do not desire it to be admitted free after being partly dressed in New Zealand and other countries. If the opponents of this duty are logical, they ought to advocate that completely finished and polished butterboxes should be brought from outside the Commonwealth. The intention undoubtedly, in opposing this duty, is to hit at the industry in Queensland. What are the grounds on which this’ duty is opposed ? If the Committee determine to abolish this duty, I, of course, am helpless; but I wish honorable members to know exactly what they are doing. The honorable member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Wimmera, the honorable member for Robertson, and others, have stated that, even if the industry were established, Queensland could not supply all the requirements of Australia ; and I ad mitted that fact in my opening remarks. But that is no justification for refusing the industry a small modicum of protection. What would become of the wool industry if the same argument were applied to it? Can the woollen manufacturers supply all the requirements of Australia? Where now are the men who stood in this Committee and declared that the woollen industry would be destroyed in the absence of a higher duty? What political hypocrisy !
– There is a reasonable prospect of the woollen industry overtaking the demand.
– And there is a reasonable prospect of those engaged in the timber industry in Queensland supplying the demand.
– That has not been shown.
– They have the opportunity to. supply the demand now.
– Is there any denial of the facts stated in the document which has been distributed to us?
– I have not read it.
– The agnostic argument is very convenient sometimes. The estimate of the forest areas, as shown in that document, has not been denied.
– Are those areas all pine?
– There are large areas of pine forests. However, log timber is now free.
– But butter-box timber is not free.
– Butter-box log timber is free.
– New Zealand pine wood is not free.
– I maintain that if butter-box timber were imported in the log there would be cheaper timber for fruit-cases.
– It is dearer to buy in the log than when it is sawn.
– Because of the export duty in New Zealand.
– Undoubtedly, an export duty has been imposed in New Zealand in order to protect the workmen in that State. The honorable member for Indi has told us that those more particularly interested in this trade have come to an agreement which we ought to adopt.
– What nonsense! They are two interested parties !
– How would it help Queensland to have the logs cut here?
– Such a course would be in accordance with the protectionist principle of imposing the smallest duty on the raw material, and higher duties according to the degree of manufacture. In any case, the proposal represents a duty of only 15 per cent., and that could not affect prices very materially.
– It means an increase of 21/2d. in the price of the box.
– I am credibly informed that the price has been (raised by 6d. per box.
– The price of fruit cases has been raised by 2d.
– Who believes for a moment that the increased duty amounts to 2d. per box?
– It does.
– And that is proved by the fact that the Customs authorities are willing to give a rebate of 21/2d.
– The Customs authorities have not been able to give that attention to this matter that it ought to have received.
– Then why have they offered the rebate?
– I am only expressing my opinion. I think, however, that there is some excuse for the Customs authorities, seeing that the Comptroller and others, in conjunction with the Treasurer, havebeen engaged in this Chamber for fifteen and sixteen hours a day.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member at last protesting against this sweating !
– Nearly all, citizens are more or less sweated in the earning of their daily bread ; and it is not too much to ask us, who are well paid, to devote a littte extra time to our duties.
– Does the honorable member consider that we are well paid ?
– I have never denied that we are well paid, though I do not think that we are overpaid. All this”, however, is by the way ; and I desire to discuss the question of the protection of the Queensland pine wood industry. There has been an attempt made to belittle the quality of Queensland pine; but it is too late in the day to take that attitude. The honorable member for Robertson practically made that charge against the Queensland timber.
– I shall say something directly !
– The honorable member may reprot as often as he likes the charge which was made five years ago, but which has been disproved by the fact that Queensland butter, exported in Queensland pine boxes, has not once, but twenty times, got to the top of the London market.
– We do not question the quality of the Queensland timber.
– The honorable member for Robertson has just signified his intention of again addressing himself to that point.
– I meant that I would put myself right with the Committee.
– I cannot allow any reflections of the kind to be made on the quality of the timber of Queensland; and honorable members ought to be. more reasonably careful in what they say.
– It has been said that in all Australia there is no timber suitable for use in the Broken Hill mine.
– When I knew Mount Morgan, the only wood used there was hardwood, and I suppose that such is the case now; at any rate, there has never been a single accident in consequence of the timber breaking at Mount Morgan.
– There is practically very little timber used at Mount Morgan.
– The honorable member is mistaken, though, of course, Mount Morgan is a small mine as compared with the mines of Broken Hill.
– At Broken Hill as much as 72,000 feet of timber is used in one day, and that is just about as much as would be used at Mount Morgan in twelve months.
– The timber is used in a different way at Broken Hill. Hardwood is much stronger than any other timber in the world.
– That is the objection to it at Broken Hill - it is dangerous because it is hard and strong.
– No doubtoregon makes a loud squeaking noise before it actually breaks; and, as I said before, I am not attempting to in any way dictate how the mines shall be managed at Broken Hill. What I contend is that, if miners suffer from the Tariff, so do the timber getters whose tools of trade are subject to a heavy duty. These men who are really doing pioneering work, and doing as much as, for instance, dairymen to open the country, ought not to suffer from any disadvantage in this connexion. There are far more dairymen than timber getters in my electorate, and most of the sawmillers are entirely opposed to me politically ; but that does not influence me one iota. There is a principle involved in the establishment of native industry.
– This industry is well established, but it cannot supply the demand.
– We desire to have it better established. I have heard the honorable member for Corangamite grow quite enthusiastic about the expansion of some trumpery industry in Victoria.
– Are the employe’s paid better in Queensland than in New Zealand?
– I am unable to answer that question.
– The employes are under the Arbitration Court in New Zealand.
– My desire is that all employes should be paid fair and reasonable wages, as prescribed by the Court. What class of men is it proposed to attack? A class whose members were the very first to be called upon to assist the Mother Country in her hour of need. When we required soldiers to fight the battles of the Empire, to whom did we appeal? To the bushmen of the Commonwealth. The amendment ofthe honorable member for Barrier is unnecessary, and he himself must know it. It is merely a kite-flying proposal, which has been submitted with the object, later on, of getting these articles put upon the free list. It is a mere placard - a redundancy. The paragraph reads -
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes of 12 in. x 6 in. (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super, feet,1s. 6d.
Nowhere in the Tariff are Oregon and New Zealand pine specifically mentioned.
– Therefore, they are dutiable.
– If the amendment be carried, we shall not have altered the position one iota except in regard to Oregon and New Zealand white pine - Oregon being used by the mining companies and New Zealand white pine by the dairymen.
– And the fruitgrowers.
– The fruit-growers can do better by importing the logs. This question is of some importance, at least to one State of the Commonwealth.
– It is not of the least importance.
– The allegations that the effect of the duty will be to increase the price of butter boxes and fruit cases cannot be substantiated. How often have similar statements been made with regard to other articles since this Tariff was introduced? Do we not know that over and over again the Treasurer has pointed out that there was no duty upon articles the prices of which had been raised owing, it was alleged, to the introduction of the new Tariff? If prices have been increased from other than fiscal reasons, that is no reason why the pioneers in the timbercutting trade should be penalized by the adoption of the amendment.
– The leader of the Labour Party has charged me with having attempted to belittle the pine timber industry of Queensland. In that he did me an injustice. I merely stated that during the discussion of the first Commonwealth Tariff it was contended that the use of Queensland timber in butter boxes imparted a disagreeable flavour to the butter. I wish now to read a few lines in proof of my statement that such an assertion was made. It was made by Mr. Manifold. Speaking in this chamber that gentleman said -
There has been a lot of correspondence in. the local papers on the subject of butterboxes at Byron Bay, and the Victorian dairy expert,. Mr. Crowe, condemns the Queensland timber, which he considers to be unsuitable. The NewZealand white pine is very useful for the purpose, but the Queensland pine is said to make the butter smell somewhat.
I make this quotation merely with a view to substantiate my statement. I should be the last to attempt to belittle any industry in Australia, or to cast a reflection upon any timber which can be grown in Queensland.
– The statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay, that timber for butter-box purposes is admitted free, is incorrect. It is true that logs are upon the free list, but it costs more in the way of freight to import them than it does to import timber in its dressed state. Fully one-third of the logs represent waste, and consequently it is considerably dearer to import timber in that form. With regard to the timber that is used for fruit-boxes, I would point out that flitches are sent to London from New Zealand because they bring higher prices there, and it is those higher prices which enable us to obtain the other portions of the timber cheaper than we. should otherwise be able to get them. If the consumer had to pay a duty upon that timber it would necessarily add to its price, and certainly no saving could be effected by its importation in the form of logs. Earlier in the debate 1 stated that there was no competition between the hardwood timbers of Australia and the imported softwood timbers. That fact is clearly shown by the great difference between the prices of the two articles. I stated, and my statement was questioned, that hardwood timber was sold at from 9s. to 10s. per 100 superficial feet, whereas Oregon realised from 14s. 6d. to 17s. per 100 superficial feet.
– That may be so at the mills.
– No; those are the prices in the metropolitan market. Of course, I am speaking of stock sizes. I hold in my hand the December price-list of a Melbourne timber merchant -
– Which December ?
– December of the present year. Surely the Attorney- General does not imagine that I am endeavouring to mislead the Committee. That price-list quotesoregon cut to size up to 36 feet at 17s. per 100 superficial feet, and oregon of stock sizes at 10s. per 100 superficial feet. These figures show that there is even a greater difference between the prices than I have previously stated.
.- I intend to support the amendment of. the honorable member for Barrier. But I rise chiefly for the purpose of refuting the statement which has been repeatedly made that the hardwood timbers of Australia are suitable for use in the Broken Hill mines. I have had a number of years’ experience in both quartz and alluvial mines in Victoria, and I say that anybody with practical knowledge will admit that the class of timber required in the Barrier mines is not hardwood timber. No comparison can be instituted between those mines and the mines of any other portion of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, if we were to impose a duty of 5s. per 100 superficial feet upon Oregon, it would still be imported for those mines, but in less quantity. There would be a disposition to economize in the matter of timber, and accidents would probably result. I do not think that the imposition of the duty proposed would benefit the timber industry of Queensland one iota. But my first consideration is the safety of the miners. Something has been said about the hard lot of the timber cutters. There is no doubt that timber cutting is hard work, and that there is a certain amount of risk associated with it. But if the timber cutter were required to work for only one shift in a Broken Hill mine, he would be very glad to return to his ordinary avocation. I have been down the mines there, and I can only compare the creaking and the roaring of the timber sets to the noise which is made by a terrific bush fire. In the Central Mine this creaking may be heard continuously.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the Committee adjourned for dinner, I was pointing out the kind of timber which is essential to the safe working of the Broken Hill mines. There are no mines in Australia similar to those mines. For instance, in some places an immense cavity is worked to a width of 400 feet, and it is essential to have a class of timber which will resist the pressure by degrees, and will not snap as hardwood usually does. I have no doubt in my own mind that, whether a duty be imposed or not, Oregon timber will be imported for those mines. What I fear is that if the price of timber be increased by the imposition of a duty there may be a tendency to scrimp the timbering, and so place the unfortunate miner in greater danger. I do not know what the intention of the Government on this matter is. It will be remembered that this morning the honorable member for Flinders asked a question about a rebate of the duty paid on the timber used in butter boxes. I understood the Minister of Trade and Customs to reply that it was the intention of the Treasurer to put that kind of timber on the free list. Several honorable members to whom I have spoken formed the same impression. But other honorable members have told me that they did not think that that was intended. In its report, the Melbourne Herald confirms my impression of the reply. Since this morning, I have gathered that the Treasurer does not intend to take that step.
– I am not prepared to make a statement at this moment, but if that were done, the timber for the boxes would have to be cut in lengths in bond.
– We must not lose sightof the fact that timber is used for other purposes than the production of butter boxes and the timbering of mines.
It is required in nearly every industry, and is also used by private persons to a large extent. I hope that the Committee will not distinguish between the users of timber. I see ii j reason why it should be made free in the case of one particular line and subjected to heavy duties in the case of other lines.
– The other people have a larger range of choice.
– I remember that the immediate effect of the imposition of the duties under the old Tariff was an increase in the price of timber. The builders found the duties a very serious tax indeed, and, of course, it had to be passed on to other persons. Since that time there have been other increases. There seems to be a combine in the timber business.
– I think that the sawmillers and the merchants are in the combine.
– In my opinion, the easiest way to break down the combine will be to put timber on the free list.
– I do not think that that would affect the position at all.
– If that were done, a man would not require so much money in order to secure his timber. To a small man who wants to start in business a duty is a very great item, lt is to be regretted that the Government have not dealt with the Timber Combine under the Anti-Trust Act, because in. any part of the Commonwealth they can get evidence of an increased price having been charged under the old Tariff, and of advantage having been taken of the new duties. No doubt we shall have further results if those duties are increased. I want to deal with the joint recommendations of the Melbourne Timber Merchants’ Association and the Federal Saw -millers’ Employes Association. They want certain classes of timber to be put on the free list., and recommend an increase in the duties on other sizes of timber. It is as fine a specimen of brazen cheek and glaring selfishness as has ever been brought under our notice. Here are these persons, who want protection on every article they make, clamouring to get their own raw material put on the free list. But they have no consideration for the man who wants to erect a house, or to use that material in other ways. In the case of other persons, the ‘timber merchants are not satisfied with the proposed ‘duties which represent a fairly stiff increase on the old duties, but deliberately suggest an increase of nearly 100 per cent, on some lines of timber. It is only another exhibition of the inherent selfishness which characterizes all manufacturers. They want their machinery, tools of trade, and everything else put on the free list, but demand a high duty on the raw material of the primary industries. If this circular letter is to be taken as a sample of the kind of barter to which they are prepared to resort, the sooner the Committee is made acquainted with their actual intentions, the better it will be for the users of these articles. I, in common with a large number of honorable members, have been under the impression that in the matter of the timber duties we had to consider not only the manufacturer and his employes, but also a very important factor in the production of wealth, and that is the user of the article. But these two interested parties sit down, and the employes practically say to the sawmillers, .” Now, we will agree with you to go for the increased duties, and to plunder the other fellow, provided that we are to get a bit of this protection in the form of increased wages. It is immaterial to us what you intend to charge the user.” If that is their idea of the new protection-
– We have something to say about the charges, too.
– We are always talking about going to have a say about the charges, but in the meantime they are being made.
– We cannot do everything at once.
– The Government have already had opportunities to take action, but they have not yet given effect to the. system of new protection. For instance, they could have dealt with the Timber Combine if they had taken the trouble to obtain the evidence which is available. If two parties are to be allowed to fix the duties on articles, and to arrange for parcelling out the plunder, it is about time that the user got some consideration. If anything we may do here should tend to cripple the .primary producers, its effects will very soon be felt in the metropolitan areas of the States. I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, and I trust that when we come to fix the duties on other lines the Committee will see that the users get a fair, square deal, - and that no special exemptions are made for a particular.class of persons.
– I am as desirous as is any one of getting on with the consideration of the Tariff. I suggest to the Committee that it would be a fair compromise to fix the duty on the timber required for butter boxes at 9d. per 100 feet, with the right, if the Minister so desires, to manufacture them in bond.
– What about the timber for the mines?
– The proposal of the honorable member is in no way affected by my suggestion. Beyond that I cannot go.
– The suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay would have helped us very considerably if it had been made at an earlier hour. This item has given rise to a considerable amount of feeling. Some honorable members have doubted whether Colonial timbers are suitable for the purpose of making butter boxes, and other honorable members have declared that Queensland pine, if suitable for the purpose, is not available, and that consequently persons would have to look elsewhere’ for their supplies of pine. The suggestion which has been made by the honorable member for Wide Bay occurred to my mind in the early part of the debate.’ I shall be prepared to agree to a compromise of 9d. per 100 feet on the timber if the butter boxes are allowed to be made free in. bond. I know that since the duties have been imposed the Department of Trade and Customs have made an arrangement by which a drawback of the duty paid on such timber is allowed when the butter boxes are exported. But I suppose that’ most honorable members are aware that when butter is sent to Melbourne or Sydney for sale it is bought very often by speculators, and that when it is exported the rebate is paid to them, and not to the factories which really paid the duty on the timber. The consequence of this system is that cooperative factories which, in most cases are owned by the farmers, have had to pay the duty without getting the full advantage of the draw-back. If such an arrangement were made as has been suggested, the original purchasers of the butter boxes would get a remission of the duty paid on the timber.
– Will the honorable member say how country factories would be affected by the manufacture of butter boxes in bond?
– They could get their timber free of duty in any thickness they liked.
– I wish to call attention to the coolness of the proposal to put a tax upon the mining industry by way of what is called a compromise. Oregon timber is not produced in Australia at all. No substitute for it is produced here. Yet it is calmly proposed to impose a duty of 9d. per 100 feet, instead of 6d. as under the old Tariff, and that is called a compromise. Some honorable members who profess to be strong protectionists are willing to make a concession in the case of butter boxes, but no concession to the mining industry. Surely that is most unfair. The idea that oregon can be imported in logs has been exploded. I have shown that kauri pine from New Zealand has been sold recently at from20s. to 24s. per100 feet in logs, whilst first-class boards were sold at from 20s. to 30s. per 100 feet.
– Because there is an export duty in New Zealand.
– We are dealing with facts, not explanations. Not a 220th part of the timber that is imported comes in log form, because it costs less to import the sawn timber and pay the duty. The Broken Hill mines would long ago have imported logs had it been cheaper- to import them than sawn timber. I enter my protest against this way of dealing with the matter. I can see no reason why we should not consider one industry as well as another. Queensland is not able to supply the timber that is required, even if Queensland timber were suitable. No one wishes to injure the Queensland industry, but trade is so brisk already that they cannot supply the market. I object to putting a tax unnecessarily upon one of our most important industries. If we imposed a duty of 5s. per 100 feet super., not one log more would be imported, nor would it conduce to any other kind of timber being used. This tax does not affect all mines, but it does touch those which have to work under the square set system, and cannot use any other timber than oregon, I have been in mines where hardwood was used, and where a collapse came so suddenly from the wood snapping that it put out every light in the mine. Mine-owners are not going to take such risks, and we do not want them to. It is of no use to compare mines worked on the square-set system with mines where there is simply an open cut. When they get down deep the square-set system is a necessity, and then there is no substitute for oregon timber in Queensland or in any other part of Australia. What is more, we do not want to put the beautiful pine of Queensland into our mines. We are told that it is even too good for making butter boxes, and it costs three or four times as much as some mines can afford to pay.
– I wish to point out to the honorable member for Darling that the practice of the Department of Trade and Customs is that if any imported article is afterwards re-exported a drawback of duty is allowed. That practice is in accordance with the policy that this Parliament has authorized.
.- -I compliment the honorable member for Barrier on the tricky way in which he has moved, his amendment. If that term is objected to I will say the discreet way in which he has moved it, so as to “rope in” all those honorable members who are interested in butter boxes, as well as those who are interested in mining. If oregon stood by itself, I believe that a good case could be made out for putting it on the free list; certainly a better case than could be made out for so dealing with New Zealand white pine. I shall vote against either being made free under present circumstances, just as I voted a few nights ago against coloured marble being put on the free list, and for Carrara marble being free. But, at the same time, I believe that if we were to put an import duty of 5s. per 100 feet on oregon it would not lessen the imports by 5 per cent., because that class of timber must be used for certain purposes. Ti I had an opportunity of voting that the duty on oregon should remain as it was under the old Tariff, at 6d. per 100 feet super., I should do so. But New Zealand white pine is in another category. There are several kinds of timber in Australia that can be used for making fruit cases, and the honorable member for Moreton has proved that the butter boxes used in Queensland and made from wood grown in that State are as good as any others. I believe that a suggestion is to be made that we .should allow butter boxes to be made in bond. I think that that would be a mistake, and I shall vote against it if it is proposed. It is in the interest of every honorable member representing a country constituency to vote against such a proposal, ‘ because the timber merchants who would go to the expense of turning their places into bonds, and employing a Custom House officer at a salary of about ^300 a year are not numerous; and it would mean that one or two firms would have an absolute monopoly of the trade. It would be the worst thing we could do in the interests of the butter industry. If the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier is put to the vote I shall oppose it. But if I have an opportunity, I shall vote for a duty of 6d. per 100 feet, or, if that is negatived, and the Committee votes on the question whether the duty shall be 9d. per 100 feet, I shall vote for that.
– I am rather sorry that the honorable member for Yarra ‘should have said that I have moved my amendment in rather a “tricky “ way. I do not think that that is fair. In the last Parliament I voted for New Zealand white pine to be free, as well as oregon. I do not see why oregon should be free if white pine is to be dutiable. I wish to do the best I can for the mining industry, because I represent a mining electorate. But at the same time, I do not want to penalize the dairying industry in order that the mining industry may secure an advantage at its expense. I should like to explain what it is that I wish to have’ carried’ just now. I fancy that one or two honorable members are under a misapprehension as to what the outcome of the division would be. It does not follow that if the Committee agrees to my first proposal, to put oregon and white pine in paragraph a, those timbers will necessarily be free. In the first division we shall not be voting to make them free.
– I cannot understand the necessity for putting those words in.
– If the Treasurer will accept a proposal to make the timbers in paragraph a free, I. will retire at once. But there are some honorable members who are prepared to make Oregon and New Zealand pine free, or to impose a very low duty on them, whilst they are not prepared to extend that treatment to other timbers. The honorable member for Yarra says that he is prepared to vote for Oregon being placed on the free list, or being subjected to Only a very low duty, but that he is not ready to deal with New Zealand white pine in the same way. If the honorable member is prepared to vote against the ^amendment because it covers both oregon and white pine, then it is obvious that he would do so if it also included other timbers. The same remark will apply to other honorable members who are prepared to vote for a low duty on oregon and white pine, whilst they think that certain other timbers should be subjected to a heavier duty. For these reasons, I think that we should deal separately with Oregon and white pine. My first amendment is simply designed to confine paragraph a to oregon and white pine, and once that question has been decided, it will be open to honorable members to determine whether those timbers shall be free or subjected to a duty.
– I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, to put the amendment before the Committee in two sections, as you have power to do under the Standing Orders. Any complicated question may be so treated, and if my suggestion were adopted, it would enable a clear vote to be taken. Mr. Speaker has frequently split up amendments in that way.
– By consent.
– The Standing Orders provide that it may be done, and I hope that you, Mr Chairman, will adopt this course.
– I presume that the honorable member for South Sydney desires that I shall put the question in two sections - the one relating to oregon and the other to New Zealand pine
– Standing order 122 provides that the House may order a complicated question to be divided, and if it be the desire of the Committee, I shall put the question in separate paragraphs
– I shall object.
– The honorable member for Yarra nas said that if butter-box timber were dealt with in bond, it would involve an annual expenditure of £300.
– That would be the cost of the bond.
– The cost of keeping a Customs Officer in attendance. The honorable member is under a misapprehension. The cost would not exceed £50 per annum. Shiploads of timber would be sent in and would be immediately cut up into the required sizes and taken away.
– At the outside, the cost would be only £25 per annum.
– I am well above the mark in saying that it would be £50 per annum. I hope that no honorable member will, vote, on the score of cost, against the imposition of a duty.
– Judging by the remarks made bv the honorable member for Wide Bay and others, there is every likelihood that a duty, which will not be protective in its incidence, will be carried.
– I say that the duty, whatever it is, will be protective.
– I disagree with the honorable member. I am not going to vote for a duty of 6d. or 9d. per 100 superficial feet on this timber, and thus penalize a big industry for the sake of raising revenue. We should either protect’ our timber industry or allow timber to come in free. I shall vote, ‘ first of all, for the item being placed on the free list, and, if that proposition be rejected, I shall vote for the highest duty that I can obtain.
.- There is good reason for adopting the course suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney, since, underlying the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barrier, there is a serious danger to the interests of those who are called upon to use New Zealand pine. My experience teaches me that the making of butter-boxes does not represent onetwentieth of the uses to which this pine is put in Australia. Listening to this debate, one would imagine that New Zealand white pine is used only for making butterboxes. As a matter of fact, it is put to many other uses, and this question has a much broader aspect than some imagine.
– Does the honorable member think that New Zealand white pine should be free?
– Undoubtedly ; because in Australia we cannot obtain in sufficient quantities a suitable substitute to meet the demand.
– The honorable member speaks as a builder?
– I speak as a man who has had to buy this timber. We have not in Australia a supply of white pine adequate to meet the demand, and, that
Queensland cannot supply our wants. The imports to Australia of soft woods is 115,000,000 feet per annum. Queensland can only supply 4,000,000 ft. at their own price, which has been advanced 50 per cent. within the last two years.
– They are polished pagans.
– If I called the honorable member a Christian he would not be offended, and I am sure that those who have signed this circular care not what name the honorable member applies to them. The honorable’ member for Darwin has said that he claims my vote. I do not know why he should claim my vote. I am here in the interests of my constituents. The honorable member for Wide Bay, too, claimed my vote. I should like to know on what ground?
– On the ground that the honorable member declared himself to be a protectionist.
– I suppose that the Fisher of Wide Bay thought that he had caught a very big fish, by using that phrase. He has not succeeded. I am not prepared to vote for a duty on this timber until there is a reasonable prospect of Queensland and the other States being able to supply the demand for it. When that time arrives, we may well impose a duty in the furtherance of the policy of protection; but until then such an impositionwould merely penalize industries which we should do our best to assist. I. object strenuously to the division of the question. We have been discussing the amendment all day long as raising one question, and now, at the eleventh hour, it is proposed to divide it.
– And to double the debate.
– Yes. The whole subject will be re-opened. This is being done in order that one party in the Committee may be played off against another.
– That is exactly what it is being done for.
– We are too “fly” to allow that to be done, if we can help it.
– Honorable members cannot help it.
– The honorable member can argue that the amendment is not a complicated one.
– It is certainly not a complicated one.
– The Committee has consented to the question being divided.
– No; the Committee has not been asked yet.
– The question has not been put to the Committee.
– There was no objection.
– I heard it objected to.
– I did not understand that the Committee had consented to the division of the question. If it had been put to the Committee, I, for one, would have objected, because I consider that such a procedure would allow the whole matter to be re-opened. We must, of necessity, view it from another standpoint, if it is divided, and vote for both propositions.
– Honorable members can vote for both separately.
– If we were anywhere else than in a Parliamentary Committee that would be perfectly safe, but under the circumstances I do not know that it is safe. In the interests of the butter producers, of the individual who wants to build himself a small cottage, of the great mining industry, and of the development of the country generally, there must be no paltering with this question. We must show a firm front, and make a determined effort not to sacrifice the great interests of the Commonwealth to the minor interests.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir clinched the argument when he showed that timber for butter boxes cannot be obtained in Australia in a sufficient quantity to meet the demand. There is a demand for Australian timber, but the supply is not large enough to meet it. The Committee has already voted to make wheat sacks free, so that the cost of exporting our grain to England shall not be increased. Wool packs, too, are free. Having made free the coverings and bags in which our wool and grain are exported, why should we put a tax on the boxes in which our butter is exported? I shall support the amendment to make oregon and white pine free.
– The honorable member will not separate the two?
– No. I should not have spoken on this subject had I seen that things were going theright way. As a trick has been suggested, I say that the trick is in trying to separate the two proposals contained in the amendment.
– The division of the question will not prevent the honorable member from voting for each of the proposals separately.
– Every word that was said by the honorable member for Barrier aboutthe safety attained by the use of oregon timber in the Broken Hill mines was absolutely true. I know something about the subject, because for two years I handled every bit of timber used by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. The big creep occurred during that period, when we used as much as 72,000 feet a day - more than the saw -mills of Queensland could cut in a week, or in a month. The average quantity of oregon used in the Broken Hill mines for the two years during which I had the contract was 300,000 feet a week. Tasmanian stringy bark was during that time given an exhaustive trial by the directors, but it was not a. success, because it is not safe. Oregon is the only timber that invariably gives warning that the strain on it is too heavy, and thus enables those who are watching it to take precautions against disaster. Our first object should be to secure the safety of those who are working in the bowels of the earth. We should do in this matter what I suggested should be done in regard to mining machinery - leave it to those who are running these propositions to decide what is the best material to use. The Committee is not composed of experts in mining, and it should therefore listen to those who are. I hope that honorable members will allow oregon to be imported free for use in the mines and for other purposes, and that it will also allow the white pine which is used in making butter boxes to be imported free.
.- Before the Committee divides, I wish to be set right on one point. As honorable members are aware, the Commonwealth has undertaken the administration of New Guinea, and the development of its resources, and I believe that the Government wish to advance the Territory in every way. possible. I am informed that large sums of money have recently been invested there in the establishment of saw-mills to open up an export trade in timber, and I wish to know whether the proposed duty will not militate against that trade. I was under the impression that a rebate would be given in connexion with timber imported from New Guinea; but I now understand that that is not so, and that that timber will be treated like any coming from other countries.
– Does the honorable member suggest a preference to Germany by a rebate on timber imported from German New Guinea?
– Of course not. Why does the honorable member waste the time of the Committee by making such an interjection? I am alluding toPapua or British New Guinea. If the duty will militate against the development of that Territory.
I urge the Government to introduce, at an early date, legislation which will remove the disability.
– I understand that the matter will be dealt with at the end of the Tariff
– No doubt we shall hear from the Minister exactly what is proposed.
.- I have listened for several hours to special pleading on behalf of the mining and butter exporting industries, but I have not heard a word on behalf of the furniture industry. English oak, walnut, and other woods are imported to be made into furniture, but it has not been proposed that those timbers shall be made free of duty. I am not going to ask for such a concession, because this is a protectionist community, and every industry should reap the /benefits of our policy of protection.
– The farmers will benefit mightily by a duty on butter boxes.
– We should protect the men who labour in our forests. If it is right to allow to be imported free white pine and oregon, it is right to allow to be imported free walnut, oak. and other furniture timbers. I am glad that the butter industry and the mining industry are doing so well, and making so much money that they can afford to pay a little more for the timber they use. I am prepared to give every industry in Australia, in whatever State it may be, some amount of protection. It has been extraordinary to hear to-day free-traders making protectionist speeches, and protectionists making free-trade speeches.
– The honorable member made a good free-trade speech on chairs.
– And on paraffine wax.
– I voted for a duty of 35 per cent, on chairs. That is a very fair protective duty. The honorable member for Barrier would call it prohibition. I am not a prohibitionist, but a protectionist. I am surprised that honorable members in dealing with these duties do not take the serious view of their possible effects upon the future welfare of this country which we have a right to expect from the members of a Parliament representing the great Commonwealth of Australia.
.- I have no intention of making a speech. I have been listening all day to arguments which I should myself have submitted in support of the proposal to permit Oregon and white pine timber to come in free, and I am satisfied that they are correct. I have risen to ask what is the present position. Have you, sir, decided that Oregon timber shall be dealt with separately, or is the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barrier to be put as moved, and the vote taken with respect to both oregon and New Zealand pine at the same time?
– The honorable member for Wilmot asks me to state the present position. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Barrier would have been put in the ordinary course as the honorable member moved it, but the honorable member for South Sydney asked me whether the question might not be divided.- I pointed out that according to standing order 122 I had no power to divide the question, but that the Committee has power to request that a question be divided.
– Besides, there is no complication.
– The point is that it is not for me to say whether the question as submitted is complicated or not. It is for the Committee to say that, and if the Committee says that the question is complicated, I then, have power to divide it.
– Did you not put it to the Committee to say whether the question should be divided?
– I asked the Committee whether I should divide the question, and I certainly understood that I had the consent of the Committee to do so. If honorable members continue their conversations it is difficult for me to give a ruling or to hear what is said. I repeat ,that so far as I could understand when I put it to the Committee deliberately to say whether the question should be divided, no objection was taken to the adoption of that course.
– I said that I objected.
– When you said you had no power to divide the question, of what use was it to raise any objection ?
– I pointed out that I had no such power unless with the consent of the Committee, and when I put the question, and there was no dissent, I took it for granted that the Committee gave me power to divide the question. As it appears that some honorable members did object, though I certainly did not hear them, I accept their statement, and in the circumstances the amendment will have to be put as it was moved.
.- There is an easy way of getting over the difficulty. I must, however, express my surprise that any honorable member should raise any objection to putting separately two questions so radically distinct as are proposals to impose duties on oregon and on New Zealand pine. Right through the discussion on the Tariff I have advocated and urged that the utmost facility should be given on every occasion to have the lowest duty put first and all technical difficulties swept aside, so that honorable members might have a fair vote upon each question separately and in rotation; and I say it is a paltry thing of honorable members to now object to having these questions divided.
– I think it is a very proper thing.
– I think very little of honorable members who insist on tricks of this description.
– I rise to a point of order. .
– Order. I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I wish to say that I acquit–
– The honorable member will please withdraw the remark.
– Perhaps I will be al lowed to explain what my remark was intended to convey. I want to say that I acquit at once the honorable member who moved the motion of any desire to trick the Committee, but I say that when the difficulty was pointed out, and it was shown that the motion, as moved, puts the Committee in an awkward position, the matter assumes a very different complexion. If any one objects to that statement of the case, I am prepared to withdraw it. I have said that there is an easy way out of the difficulty and I now move, as an amendment of the amendment -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ and New Zealand pine.”
– I have refrained all day from taking part in the very long discussion on this item - which has assumed a most complex and difficult characterbecause I have found that to take part in a debate until it has reached a certain stage, has sometimes had the effect of provoking further argument. My great object is to get a fair vote after discussion. and I am quite prepared then to submit to the decision of the Committee. Surely there has been a sufficiently lengthy discussion on this question during the whole of this long day? I wish to say but a very few words. The honorable member for Barrier has put his case strongly, and was quite within his rights in moving the amendment he has submitted. The honorable member for Wide Bay has put his case more strongly than I have ever heard him put a case before, and he displays a tenacity of purpose which reflects the greatest credit upon him. I do not propose to enter into the details of the matter under discussion. Every honorable member present is aware that I desire to carry out a protective policy. I have been surprised at the speeches made to-day by one or two honorable members of this House who were returned as strong protectionists. It is all nonsense to say that we cannot produce the timber we require here. I need not dilate upon that. I can assure honorable members that the leading harvester, agricultural implement, and buggy maker in my electorate does not use a single stick of imported timber. He uses only Australian timber, but he sees that it is properly seasoned.
– We do the same. We burn Colonial firewood.
– There is something in what the honorable member for Bass has said. I see that certain honorable members are laughing over this very serious subject. I do not think that is quite proper. I wish the matter to be dealt with seriously, and in no spirit of levity. If honorable members decide that both these classes of timber shall be admitted duty free, they will be going lower than the old Tariff.
– They are getting common-sense.
– The honorable member for Grampians will never get that if he lives to be as old as Methuselah. He has lost his opportunity.
– The honorable gentleman never had any common-sense, and never will have any.
– The statement of the Treasurer is not argument.
– I know that, but the honorable member for Grampians has been very insulting two or three times.
– The Treasurer is offensive at all times.
– I wish to remind honorable members of the responsibility they are taking upon themselves in proposing to abolish the duty which has been in force for the last five years.
– On New Zealand pine ?
– On New Zealand pine. Honorable members laugh, but the honorable member for Boothby made a stupid interjection only fitted for a school boy. The honorable member knows, and is aware that I know, that the duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet was imposed on oregon timber. I know also that aspecial arrangement was made with respect to New Zealand pine.
-I asked the honorable gentleman about New Zealand pine.
– I expected that the honorable member would not be guilty of a trick of that kind.
– It was only a joke.
– It was a very childish joke, and was not fitted for a member of Parliament.
– There the Treasurer is again.
– I do not wish to hear anything from the ridiculous honorable member opposite, who has proved himself to be the greatest spotted protectionist in the community, and the most unreliable member.
– The honorable member for Grampians was never a protectionist, and never will be.
– And he never will be trustworthy.
– He has used wooden arguments out of his own head.
– I again appeal to honorable members to keep order. It is impossible for the Treasurer to proceed with these continual interjections.
– You might keep the Minister in order, too, with his insulting remarks.
– I think the deputy leader of the Opposition is scarcely fair, in view of. the fact that I have had insulting remarks addressed to me from all round the chamber, and I am not one whose temper is such as to dispose him to submit to that sort of thing from men of the character of those who have been guilty of it. The duty on oregon under the last Tariff was 6d. per 100 superficial feet, and New Zealand white pine was free.
– No, pine.
– The honorable member is right ; the duty on . other timbers was 1s. per 100 superficial feet. Honorable members who support the amendment really propose, so far as oregon timber is concerned, to abolish the duty which existed during the operation of the old Tariff..
– Does the honorable gentleman contend that the duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on oregon was a protective duty ?
– I shall not answer the catch questions of the honorable member. No doubt it afforded some measure of protection. The decision in dealing with pine under the old Tariff was arrived at, not by a substantial majority, but by one vote.
– By the vote of an honorable member, who admitted that he voted on the wrong side.
– That is so; the honorable member for Mernda admitted at once that he voted unintentionally on the wrong side, but the result was to make pine free under the old Tariff.
– But this is supposed to be a protectionist Parliament.
– This is supposed to be a different Parliament in a protectionist sense, and if this Parliament is going to abolish the very low duty that was imposed under the old Tariff on oregon timber, its action will not be in keeping with the name it has received.I wish now to say that if the amendment moved by the honorable memberis rejected, I shall be quite prepared to make a proposal which I think will be accepted by all reasonable minds.
-What is it?
– It will involve a reduction of the duty at present proposed by the Government, and probably some arrangement by; which certain classes of timber might be admitted in a manner satisfactory to those who require to use them.
– What is the proposition, apart from these vague generalities ?
– I will tell the honorable member after the vote is taken on the amendment exactly what it will be. As I have said, it will involve a reduction of the duty now proposed, and a nearer approach to conditions existing under the old Tariff.
– 1 hope that the Treasurer’s speech will not lead to a renewal of the discussion pf the whole matter on the merits. I do not wish to say anything on the merits of the question, but I do wish, if possible, to remove some misapprehension which may exist in the minds of some honorable members in regard to the vote which we are about to take. As I understand it, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barrier is to insert after the word “ undressed,” the words “ Oregon and New Zealand pine,” with the object subsequently of inserting in the first column the word “ free.” The honorable member for South Sydney, with a desire in which I entirely concur, has proposed an amendment on ‘ the amendment. When I say that I concur in that desire, I mean that if any honorable members wish to record a separate and distinct vote on the two items they ought to have the opportunity to do so. It is with that object that the honorable member for South Sydney lias moved his amendment. I do not mean to say that they ought to be treate’d on a different basis. That is another matter. The form in which you, Mr. Chairman, will put the amendment is that the words “ New Zealand pine,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the question. Therefore, those who desire to express their opinion that both New Zealand pine and oregon ought to be treated on the same basis will vote with the “Ayes,” while those who desire Oregon, but not New Zealand pine, to be made free, will vote with the “ Noes.”
– I had intended to say nothing in this preliminary debate, until I found thatan entirely new aspect had come over it. I think I heard the honorable member for South Sydney use the word “ trickery.”
– I ask the honorable member not to refer to that matter.
– The honorable member’s perfervid oration came fittingly after his very industrious career throughout this afternoon. There has been a most industrious whip going on all the afternoon to get a uniform duty on the different timbers, but it seems that that has not succeeded, and now they are to be separated, so that an effort may be made to make’ one of them free and have the other taxed. That is the plain English of this move. I am not complaining, but I want the Committee to understand what has been going on, and what is proposed to be done. I wish to say a few words against the deletion of “ New Zealand pine “ from the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier. The honorable member for South Sydney wants to exclude the New Zealand white pine, which is now used largely for the making of butter boxes and fruit cases. Does the honorable member deny that?
– Other kinds of New Zealand pine are included.
– The argument put forward in favour of that proposal is that this is a protectionist House, but, protectionist as it is, it has already decided that the interests of the great primary producers of Australia must have precedence. That has been an outstanding feature of the whole consideration, of this Tariff. The question now is whether we are to depart from the sound rule which the Committee has’ laid down for itself, that when it has to make its choice it will make it in favour of the great primary producer. Pursuing that line of policy, the Committee has al-‘ ready moved down to a nominal figure, if not entirely removed, the duties on galvanized iron, wire-netting, kerosene, and some other items of large consumption by the primary industries. We have had wirenetting factories in Australia for some years ; we have a huge capital sunk in the development of our shale deposits for the purpose of producing oil,, and we have large galvanized-iron works dotted over Australia, but, notwithstanding the exist- ence of those industries, the Committee either removed or reduced those duties because of the great tax which would otherwise have been imposed upon the users of the articles throughout Australia. Those industries have been put in a secondary position when they have conflicted with the requirements of the primary industries. This is a similar case. The only question the Committee has to ask itself is whether we should fine the great producers of Australia, who depend upon this pine for their boxes to send their produce away, in order to try and benefit the timber, industry in one corner of Australia, which is now finding a market for all it can supply, or whether we shall let that industry -go along and flourish, as it has been doing for years, and leave the great primary producers untouched. That is the issue in a nutshell. Whatever may be said about the quantity of pine available in Australia, here are the figures, which show the effect which the duties already imposed by the Tariff are having.
– The timber industry is a primary production.
– It is one of them. How many men are engaged in it?
– About 20,000.
– Probably nothing like it. There are 60,000 persons engaged in the dairying industry alone, and many thousands more in fruit cultivation, in Australia. Whose interests are we to put first, if one must be put first - that of the timber industry, or that of the dairying and fruit industries ? I do not think there will be so much trouble about the mining industry, as the idea of the proposal which has now been >put forward is to let the mines get their timber free, while the dairymen have theirs taxed.
– There will be no penalization of the timber industry by lowering the duty, as it cannot supply the orders in Queensland now.
– That is the whole point, but there will be a penalization of the dairying industry if the duties are passed. I wired to-day to Sydney to one of the leading fruit-growers of Australia, who is also a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, for the latest prices for fruit boxes. He replies that gin cases are i4d. each since the duties were imposed, whereas they used to be 10d. each ; bushel cases are now lod. that used to be 7d. each; and half cases are “now 7d. each where they used to be 5d.
– Who is the honorable member’s authority?
- Mr. J. C. Hunt.
– One of the most rabid free-traders in New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Franklin said that the Tasmanian boxes had been supplied in Sydney at 6Jd. each.
– He has said the same to me, but, in spite of that, here is what they are paying. Mr. J. C. Hunt is not one of the greatest free-traders in New South Wales.” The Committee has to make up its mind whether, for the sake of putting a duty on this timber, it is going to continue those prices indefinitely.
– I think it is only fair to say that there is a timber combination that keeps up prices.
– Are we likely to break that combination down by any such proposal as this?
– I do not think so. I think it will tend to intensify the trouble.
– I should think so, too. It is not the timber combination but the duty that has put up the prices. They will come down when the duty is removed. During the discussion of the former Tariff, I had the honour and privilege .of moving this item on to the free list. I hope we shall see a similar result achieved to-day - a result which accords with the dictates of elemental justice towards a large proportion of the community, without which Australia would be a desert.
.- On the point as_ to how the question should be put, I wish to mention that in 1901, when this matter came up, the honorable member for Barrier moved that the whole line be free, moving that on and after 28th February, 1902, timber undressed should be free. That amendment was the most farreaching that was proposed, because it would have put on the free list everything included in that particular item. It was defeated, and the honorable member .then moved that oregon alone should be put on the free list. That was carried, and then another honorable member followed with something else, such as baltic timber. Supposing the amendment were put on this occasion, as the honorable member for Barrier has moved it, including only two articles and not the whole item, and were lost, would it not be competent for another honorable member then to move that oregon be free, and subsequently that New Zealand pine be free? If that can be done, the Committee does not lose the. smallest right which it has of taking them separately afterwards.
– The Committee has power to divide a complicated question. As the Committee refused the ordinary consent to have the question divided in this case, the honorable member for South Sydney moved an amendment - which of course I had .to accept, and which came to exactly the same thing - that the words “ New Zealand pine “ be omitted from the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, which was to insert after the word “ undressed “ in the item the words “ Oregon and New Zealand pine.” The honorable member for South Sydney has moved to omit the words “New Zealand pine,” and that amendment, if carried, will leave oregon timber under discussion. The question will be put, “ That the words proposed to. be omitted stand part of the amendment,” and the Committee must understand, as the honorable member for Flinders has already pointed out, that if that question be carried, the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier will be put as originally proposed.
– I may say, in reply to the honorable member for Parramatta, that there was no “move” concealed under my proposal to have these articles voted on separately. The honorable member will do me the justice to acknowledge that in this, as in other Parliaments, I have consistently advocated that, whenever complex questions arise, members should be given the utmost facility to exercise a discriminating vote.
– All I pointed out was that this proposal to separate the articles has recently been made.
– Early in the day, soon after the original amendment was moved, I spoke to a number of honorable .members as to the unfairness of having these two matters mixed up in one question, and 1 took the earliest opportunity of consulting the Chairman as to the possibility of having them separated. The honorable member for Parramatta seems to- have misunderstood1 the scope of the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier. The honorable member referred to the amendment as though it included only the white pine of New Zealand. As a matter of fact, the amendment also affects kauri, and any other form of pine from the Dominion.
– I know.
– If the honorable member knows, then his argument seems to be largely beside the question, * because he spoke as though only butter boxes and fruit cases were affected.
– Fruit cases are made of kauri.
– Does the- honorable member seriously contend that we can get fruit cases only from New Zealand? In Sydney, at the present time, the greater proportion of the fruit and other cases used come from the north coast of New South Wales.
– They do not.
– I say they do; I have seen them coming in by the ship-load all sawn and machine planed, ready to be put together.
– I do not dispute that some fruit cases come from that part of New South Wales.
– I say that the greater proportion comes from there.
– Then, in the case of butter boxes, we are not in such a position as to have to rely solely on New Zealand, because, in the Queensland pine, we have an excellent wood for the purpose. That this wood cannot be obtained in the quantities desired, has not been absolutely proved. While New Zealand pine is free, and, therefore, cheap, the people of the southern States naturally use it.
– Large orders from the southern States have been sent to Queensland, but cannot be executed.
– At any rate, that is an admission that the Queensland pine is suitable for butter boxes.
– Nobody’ has denied that.
– From all the records and statistics, it would seem that there is plenty of pine wood in Queensland.
– What we say is that the requisite supplies are not available.
– I doubt that. The honorable member for Boothby, who on most questions is a protectionist, seems to assume that, no matter what encouragement we give, it is not possible to get timber from Queensland suitable- for this purpose. Every other industry, if it has made a start, and seems to be getting along fairly well, can, in his opinion, be improved by “a little more encouragement. .
– Quite so; but we cannot make timber.
– The timber is there already made; it is only a question of transport. It is the recourse of the free-trader to lay everything at the door of Providence, while it is the business of the protectionist to supplement the deficiencies of Providence. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the great primary industry of buttermaking; but I do not know that buttermaking is any more a primary industry than is timber getting, and in the latter there is an enormous number of people employed. ‘ Timber getters very often perform efficient pioneer work, and I do not think they are asking too much when they suggest a duty of 15 per cent. Though I do not bind myself to vote for the full duty proposed by the Government, it would be very improper from a protectionist standpoint to admit all kinds of timber free to compete with Australian timbers, which are well suited for the purposes intended.
– I desire to say just one sentence. The Queensland saw-millers, working at full speed, supply annually 4,500,000 feet of timber, whereas the requirements of Australia are 70,000,000 feet.
.- I desire to remove a. misapprehension by stating the facts of the case, so that honorable members may take the full responsibility for the votes they give.Constantly throughout the debate honorable members opposite have “ harped on one string,” declaring that orders which have been sent to Queensland cannot be executed. Apparently they have departed from the position that the Queensland timber is not of sufficient quality. Why is it that timber cannot be obtained from Queensland when it is wanted? It is because there is a combination of merchants and ship-owners in Sydney, who prevent timber being taken from Queensland into other parts of the Commonwealth. I am not speaking from hearsay, but stating facts which were laid before the Tariff Commission on oath, and I am surprised that they have not been mentioned before: That evidence is to the effect that there is a combination of merchants and ship-owners in Sydney who control the distribution of timber. One unfortunate individual, who tried to break away from the ring, was immediately boycotted, and thereupon he invested his money in a mill in Queensland and cut his own timber. However, when he endeavoured to have the timber conveyed to New South Wales, the combination refused to carry it.
– There are orders for millions of feet waiting execution.
– I am now speaking of evidence which was given on oath before the Commission. This gentleman determined that he would get the Queensland timber into the other States, and bought two schooners in order to ship it himself. What do honorable members think happened? The combination in Sydney took steps to prevent a single ton of cargo being given him as freight back to Queensland, using as their weapon the secret commission known as rebate. They went to store after store, and yard after yard, and threatened their customers that if one cwt. of cargo was given to this gentleman the whole of the usual rebate would be forfeited. That is how the timber industry of Queensland has been strangled. This man had the pluck of a Briton; but he was blocked in the way I have described.
– This was a Queensland saw-millers combination; according to the honorable member.
– The honorable member for North Sydney is absolutely wrong. This man was at first a merchant, but he was’ patriotic enough to invest his money and give employment in this industry in Queensland. In Sydney, when he could not get any return freight, he bought goods himself in the open market; but when he endeavoured to dispose of them in Queensland, representatives of the combination entered the auction room and threatened those there that if they dared buy one pound’s worth they would forfeit any rebate that was usually given.
– And in one instance that step was taken.
– Personally I have no interest in this matter beyond feeling it to be my duty to place these facts before the Committee.
– Sacred, solemn duty !
– A duty just as sacred as any performed by the honorable member, though I may not have the halo around my head that he has. In declaring that the Queensland timber industry cannot supply the orders which it receives, he has only one object in view.
– That fact has been admitted by one of the Queensland representatives.
– It would make no difference to me if it were admitted by the whole of the Queensland representatives. I am not speaking of what has been told to me, but of what I have seen with my own eyes. Surely there is sufficient patriotism amongst us to affirm that if we can make butter equal to that produced in any part of the world, we can also supply the timber necessary for the manufacture of butter boxes. Provision is made in the Tariff for the granting of a rebate upon every butter box exported.
– Upon boxes not made of Australian timber.
– The rebate can be claimed upon all butter boxes exported, even if the timber of which they are composed comes from New Zealand.
– How does that provision benefit Queensland?
– I am not discussing the question from that point of view. I merely wish to show that the exporters of butter have practically to pay no duty. An honorable member says give us a chance. I am giving honorable members a chance to be honest, to stand by the industries of Australia, and to keep their pledges to their constituents. I believe that a number of honorable members will vote upon this question in ignorance of the face that the necessary timber for butter boxes can be supplied in Australia.
– It cannot.
– I know from personal knowledge that it can. Time after time it has been demonstrated that we have the requisite supplies of timber. This fact was abundantly proved by the exhibits at the Australian Natives’ Association’s exhibitions, both in Sydney and Melbourne. The statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay - which has not been denied - that the butter exported from Queensland in boxes made from Queensland timber has realized the highest price in the London market, effectually disposes of the argument that the use of that timber imparts a disagreeable flavour to the butter.
– The honorable member for Riverina has raised some new points which have an important bearing upon this matter. I scarcely expected him to put it to the Committee that because the supply of timber is controlled by a combine, we ought to impose an additional duty upon that article. It seems to me that it is rather a reason why we should remit the duty. If the combine is so powerful that it can prevent the use of Queensland timber, surely by the imposition of a duty we shall be giving the whole industry of which timber is the base into the hands of that combine. If ever there was a strong argument against levying a duty upon this commodity, it is that which has been advanced by the honorable member. He has made it perfectly clear that our first duty is to break down that combine in order to enable the Queensland people to get their timber used in Australia. The imposition of the proposed duty will not accomplish that, inasmuch as it will be pocketed by the combine.
Question - That the words” and New Zealand pine” proposed to be left out stand part of the amendment (Mr. Watson’s amendment of Mr. Thomas’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
– The question is “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the amendment.” The honorable member for Barrier has moved to insert after the word “ undressed “ the words “oregon and New Zealand pine,” upon which the honorable member for South Sydney has moved to strike out the words “ and New Zealand pine.” If the words proposed to be omitted by the honorable member for South Sydney are eliminated from the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, they cannot be again put into it.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
– I desire to ascertain from you, sir, whether it will be in order, after the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier has been dealt with, for an honorable member to move the insertion of the words “New Zealand pine” in paragraph a? If not, the only course open to those who desire to place New Zealand pine either on the free list or on the same level as oregon will be, I take it, to support the insertion of a separate paragraph dealing with New Zealand pine.
– The question before the Committee is that the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier, as amended - that is, to insert the word “Oregon” after the word “undressed” - be inserted in paragraph a. It will not be in order for an honorable member to move the insertion of the words “ New Zealand pine” in that paragraph.
– Chair !
– It is most disrespectful to the Chair for honorable members generally to be conversing in loud tones. It has not been altogether my fault that the Committee have got into the present difficulty, because originally honorable members refused to have the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier divided, so that oregon and New Zealand pine could be dealt with separately. The insertion of the words “ New Zealand pine,” in paragraph a, cannot again be moved.
– Will it be in order, sir, for an honorable member to move the insertion of a separate paragraph, say, aa, relating to New Zealand pine?
– It will all depend upon what the amendment is. If an amendment is submitted, I shall be in a better position to judge.
.- I think that when the last vote was taken honorable members were under the misappre hension that the question was, as the honorable member for Barrier proposed, to take the two items together. They thought that had that question been put and lost, it would not be competent for the Committee to take them separately.
– A number of honorable members blocked the items from being taken separately.
– All that we have decided is that New Zealand pine shall not be subject to a duty of1s. 6d. per 100 feet, and, therefore, it is open to any honorable member to deal with that pine in a separate paragraph, and to propose that it shall be duty free.
– Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question, as you express a desire to know what the amendment was going to be ?
– Order ! I must again appeal to honorable members to cease these loud conversations. If any individual member were making a deliberate noise, I would be in a position to deal with him; but when practically all the members of the Committee are talking, it is impossible for me to maintain order.
– I shall not raise the question now, sir. I shall allow the amendment, as amended, to be put, and raise the question after it has been dealt with.
– I think that we should have a direction from the Chair before a vote is taken on the amendment as amended. Unless we know what we can do afterwards, it may affect materially the votes which we are about to give. I hold that immediately after this paragraph has been dealt with it will be in order for an honorable member to move for the insertion of a new paragraph, say aa, to make New Zealand pine free.
– Do I understand, sir, that my amendment to make oregon free is going to be put to the Committee ?
– I gave notice of my intention to move that oregon and New Zealand pine be made free. The proposal to make the latter free has been defeated. But since then I have learnt that the honorable member for Kooyong was not prepared to have the two items put to the Committee at the one time. I understand now that he is not in favour of oregon being made free. If he, who happens to be one of the directors of the Broken Hill mine, has an idea thatoregon ought to be subject to a duty, I for one am not going to move that it be made free, so that he can please himself as to what he will do.
.- At an early stage I indicated to the Committee that in my opinion a fair compromise would be to fix the duty on oregon at 6d. per 100 superficial feet. I intend to adhere to that position right through.
– The honorable member told me that he would support me to make it free.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member did.
– But that was said two hours ago.
– I do not mind what the honorable member does now. It does not make any difference to me.
– I took up that position more than two hours ago. I was prepared last night to vote in favour of restoring the old duty. We have protested against an increase in the old duty. I do not understand the quibbling with regard to the votes, but I want my position to be clearly defined. I believe that, in view of local interests, we shall be justified in imposing a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on this timber. The change in the manner of measuring the timber has altered the situation very materially.
Question - That the word “ Oregon “ in paragraph a be inserted (Mr. Thomas’ amendment, as amended) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. John Thomson) proposed -
That after the word “ over “ the words “ other than New Zealand white pine, cut to size for butter boxes, in bond,” be inserted.
– I point out that there is no occasion to move an amendment like that of the honorable member for Cowper. The Customs have power under the Customs Act to enable timber to be cut up in bond for export.
– But only for export.
– It seems to me to be absolutely illegal to allow timber to be cut in bond, and then to come in free, after we have declared that a duty shall be imposed. If the honorable member for Cowper means that it is to be cut for export, the Customs have power, without this amendment. But if he means that butter boxes are to be made in bond and then admitted free, I think that his proposal is absolutely illegal.
– In my opinion, there would be nothing contrary to the Customs Act or to the Constitution in inserting a special line in the Tariff providing that white pine or any other timber used for butter boxes shall be free. I am speaking purely on the question of constitutionality.
– There is no question of order. The honorable member for Cowper has moved an amendment, which I shall put in the ordinary way. Whether what he desires should be provided for in some other Act, or in this Tariff, is not for me to say. His amendment is in order, and I must accept it.
– I desire to obtain your ruling as to whether the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper is in order, on the ground of its legality. the CHAIRMAN.- I have already ruled that it is in order.
.- I submit that the amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra should come first. He desires to move that the timber dealt with in this paragraph be free. His amendment applies to the whole paragraph. If it is not carried, some other amendment - as, for instance, that the duty be 6d. per 100 feet - can be moved.
– I do not think that we can provide for things being done in bond, except in the case of dutiable goods. Section78 Of the Customs Act provides that -
Dutiable goods may be housed in warehouses licensed by the Minister.
But it would be impossible to put free goods in bonded warehouses under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
.- The honorable member for Corio has suggested that the amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra should receive prior treatment. What the honorable member for Cowper proposes to do is to amend the language of the item. I take it that an amendment of that kind must have priority over an amendment affecting the duty only.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Cowper assumes that a substantial duty will be placed upon the goods included in paragraph a. On that assumption, the honorable member desires to exempt in some way timber imported for the particular purpose of making butter boxes. It seems to me that the proposal is not a very workable one in the form in which it is introduced. The only way in which we can test the opinion of the Committee - which has not been tested yet - is on the main question whether white pine or oregon are to be admitted free. The Committee has not yet voted on that question, and in order that it may do so, it seems to me that we should first of all go to a vote upon the amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra. If that amendment be carried, it will settle the question as to New Zealand pine, oregon, and other timber. If, on the other hand, a specific duty of 6d., 1s., or1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet be carried for the general item, it will still be competent to take the opinion of the Committee on the question of whether or not one class of timber or another should be at a lower duty or be made free. Therefore, in order to get rid of this troublesome matter, I propose that we should follow the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and proceed at once to a division on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Illawarra.
– No; let us deal first of all with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cowper.
– If we do, the result will be absolute confusion.
– I was going to move it if the honorable member for Cowper had not done so.
– That does not make if right. We should be in a ridiculous position if we were asked before we knew whether any duty was going to be imposed on paragraph a to except from it one particular class of timber, for a particular purpose.
– Why did not the honorable member take that objection when the original amendment was moved?
– That was a totally different kind of amendment, designed to confine paragraph a to two classes of timber, and leaving the Committee open to deal with those two classes on their merits. The desire is, I am sure, to settle this question in an intelligent way, and we can certainly do so if the honorable member for Cowper will temporarily withdraw his amendment, in order that that proposed by the honorable member for Illawarra may. first be dealt with. We shall then be able to deal, not only with the further question as to whether or not oregon and New Zealand pine shall be free, but if they are not to be admitted duty free, whether the honorable member for Cowper’s amendment can be taken as an exception to any duty being imposed. Unless we adopt that course, we shall find ourselves in a state of interminable confusion, and the misapprehension which undoubtedly took place in connexion with the last division will be repeated.
– I agree with the honorable member for Flinders, but I desire first of all to test the feeling of the Committee on another question. If the honorable member for Cowper intends to press his amendment, I shall ask the Committee to determine whether or not we should not provide for fruit cases, as well as butter boxes, being manufactured in bond. All the arguments used in favour of the making of butter boxes in bond apply with equal force to the manufacture of fruit cases and rabbit crates under the same condition.
– Could we not deal with that question after we had decided the question of duty?
– Yes ; it would probably be better first of all to determine the question of duty on the general item, and then to make any exception that we may desire. But I am assuming that the honorable member for Cowper is going to press his amendment now.
– I intend to do so.
– Then I shall have to test the feeling of the Committee on the question of whether or not fruit cases and rabbit and poultry crates should be included in it by moving an amendment of his amendment. Perhaps I had better not overload my proposal, and I shall therefore simply move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ boxes “ the words “ and fruit cases.”
– A claim has been made for the exemption of timber for butter boxes, on the ground that there is not sufficient timber in Australia to supply our wants in that respect.
– . The chief argument in favour of the free admission of timber for butter boxes has been that the Queensland timber mills are unable to supply the local demands. Does the hon orable member for Boothby mean to say that the forests of Australia cannot produce sufficient timber to make all the fruit cases that we want ? As a matter of fact, one small mill in Tasmania can supply ten times the quantity of timber required for casing all the fruit grown in Australia.
– But that is hardwood.
– Tasmania’s fruit export trade with London is five times as great as is that of the rest of Australia, and during the. last twenty years, all the fruit exported from that State to London has been packed in cases made of local timber. I should like to point out the extraordinary fact that whilst we export to New Zealand timber for making rabbit crates for her export trade, the mainland of Australia uses wholly imported timber for that purpose. Men in Australia who appeal to this House to pass heavy duties for the protection of their manufactures, almost invariably pack their goods in boxes made of imported timber. It has been said that we will reduce the duty on Oregon to 6d. per 100 superficial feet. It is, to say the least, strange that pronounced protectionists who, throughout the consideration of the Tariff have been voting for duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 40 per cent., are ready to impose a socalled protective duty of less than 5 per cent. to assist one of the staple industries of Australia. I am satisfied that if the timber industry were within the boundaries of some of our cities, we should have a different tale to tell. Let us clearly understand the position as to the amendment of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Boothby. There can be no question as to the capacity of our mills to supply the whole of the timber required for fruit cases in Australia. I guarantee that Tasmania can supply all Australia at the rate of 41/2d. per case f.o.b. Hobart, or for about half the price that is now being paid for imported timber.
– But Tasmania cannot supply the cases that are wanted.
– The very cases that we are using in connexion with the fruit export trade between Tasmania and London, can be obtained under contract for 41/2d. each f.o.b. at Hobart, or 6d. per case in Melbourne, and 61/2d. per case in Sydney.
– The honorable member for Parramatta said that the cases in Sydney cost10d. each.
– Those cases are made of imported timber.
– If hardwood were suitable for the fruit cases, our orchardists could obtain it close to their own gardens.
– For fifteen years before the export of apples from the mainland was a business proposition, Tasmania was shipping them to London in cases made of local timber, and she is still doing so. Itis idle to say that the timber is unsuitable, or that we have not the necessary supplies. The heavy duties that have been imposed for the protection of other industries, will fall upon the timber getter. Even his saw and other requirements are liable to heavy protective duties, and yet those who have supported their imposition, consider that a duty of21/2 per cent. is sufficient protec- tion for the men engaged in one of our staple industries. I have never asked for a high duty. Had the Government in this case proposed a heavy duty, I should have been found voting to bring it down to the level for which I have been consistently fighting throughout our consideration of the Tariff. It would seem that many protectionists are prepared to swamp the Australian market with oregon, in order that a wealthy company may secure larger dividends. To say that Australian timber is unsuitable for fruit cases, is to slander it. Eighty per cent. of the mines of Australia are using Australian timber. In the great coal mines of the Newcastle district, it is almost invariably used. Not’ a mine in Tasmania uses imported timber. Surely the men who are managing these concerns know their business as well as do the mine managers at Broken Hill, who use oregon? Oregon is used at Broken Hill simply because the freights on it are less.
– At Broken Hill they pay more for oregon than for Tasmanian timber.
– The question of railway freight decides the matter. Moreover, because they use a 10 x 10 piece of oregon, they think it necessary to use a 10 x 10 piece of hardwood, although a 6x6 piece of hardwood would have a greater bearing capacity than the oregon.
– It is not a question of bearing capacity.
– It is a question of breaking point. I challenge the honorable member to say that he has known a miner to lose his life through the breaking of Tasmanian timber. Honorable members say that oregon must be imported free in the interests of the poor miner.
– In the interests of the dividend hunter.
– Yes. I challenge those who say that Tasmanian timber is dangerous for use in mines to bring forward one authenticated case of serious accident through the breaking of such timber. I make this statement notwithstanding the fact that 80 per cent. of the mines of Australia use this timber.
– What has this to do with the duty on timber used in making fruit cases ?
– We are dealing with the duty onoregon. So far as fruitcase timber is concerned, I wish honorable members to understand that if they pass the amendment they do so to allow foreign timber to oust local timber in the markets of Australia.
– No; New Zealand white pine was free under the old Tariff.
– I do not understand the consistency of the man who claims to be a protectionist, so far as city industries are concerned, but will not vote protection for the primary industries. The timber industry should be treated by protectionists as they have treated other industries; those “connected with it should be given a fair and square deal. If any body of men have a claim for consideration it is the timber-getters. If these men were employed in a Melbourne industry, they would receive, not a protection of 10 or 15 per cent., but one of 25 or 30 per cent. The people of Australia are beginning to realize that many honorable members draw a wide distinction between city and country industries. They are ready enough to tax the man in the country, but when he asks for protection they will not consider his application. Let there be some consistency. The Government proposal of 15 per cent. is the lowest protective rate in the Tariff, and it concerns an industry which, though not a city industry, deserves some encouragement.
.-Iwish to give notice of my intention to move an amendment on the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper, which will make it read - other than New Zealand white pine, cut to sizes for butter-boxes, in bond, which shall be delivered free.
.-I shall not make another speech, but I wish to remark uponthe peculiar attitude of a number of honorable members who were returned pledged to vote against any increase of duties. Some representatives of Tasmania and Queensland who were so pledged seem prepared to vote for higher duties for the further protection of industries in which their States are concerned. If I were not so strong a free-trader, I should be greatly tempted to vote in a spirit of retaliation for other duties which would operate disadvantageous to them. Of course, I shall not do so. I stick to my principles, whether a proposed duty affects an industry in my State or in any other. But I take this opportunity of protesting against what seems to be a breach of faith.
– The honorable member has consented to duties of 15 per cent, all through.
– I have consented to such duties as against proposed higher duties, in some cases running to 150 per cent., and then only because I knew that I had no chance of getting them further reduced. What I take exception to is the action of honorable members who accepted the platform of the leader of the Opposition, and pledged themselves not to vote for duties higher than the old rates, yet supporting higher duties for the benefit of particular industries in which their States happen to be chiefly concerned.
.- The honorable member for Franklin says that my proposal to allow fruit boxes as well as butter boxes to be manufactured in bond is a blow aimed at a Tasmanian industry ; but as a matter of fact New Zealand pine was, under the old Tariff, admitted free. What he wishes is to force the fruit-growers of South Australia and other States who use imported timber to confine themselves to Tasmanian timber. Does he call dairying and fruit-growing city industries?
– Of course not,; but if the timber industry were being carried on in the Boothby district the honorable member would support the duty.
– Possibly ; though in the district of Boothby there is timber as suitable for fruit cases as the Tasmanian hardwood. But what is wanted for the export trade is a light softwood. As the local hardwood is, in Tasmania, much cheaper than imported timber, it is largely used there, while the position in South Australia is different. In order to obtain good prices for our fruit, we must pack it in cases having a good appearance, and a good appearance cannot be given to a hardwood case. Then hardwood are much heavier than softwood cases, and the additional weight increases the cost of transport. The honorable member for Franklin as a member of the Tasmanian Fruitgrowers’ Association, must know how small the margin of profit is, and how carefully expenditure must be watched to prevent it reaching the vanishing point. The secretrary to the South Australian Fruit-growers’ Association has written to me on this subject, as follows -
We have to use imported wood for our export cases, and, with the passing of a Standard Fruit Case Act, for local cases also. This means quite 300,000 a year. The new duties will materially increase the cost of these cases. We have been fighting for year’s to secure reduced freights, and have succeeded to the extent of a few pence per case, but the new duties will take this out of our pockets again. It may be said, “ Use hardwood cases like the Tasmanians,” but these are not suitable. For one thing, they do not look well, and looks undoubtedly count for much in selling the fruit; they are too heavy, which means increased weights to cart and to pay freights on ; they are not so good for the purpose.
– Fruit shipments are charged for by weight, not by measurement.
– At all events, any increase in weight is a serious matter where cartage is concerned. In reply to a communication from me suggesting that it might be possible to use Tasmanian timber, the same correspondent wrote -
It is quite true Tasmania can supply hardwood cases, but if these were suitable we can cut them in our hills from our own stringy bark. We have tried these cases, but, with hardly an exception, our shippers will pay 3d. extra for the softwood.
We do not wish to prevent theTasmanians from using their local hardwood. Let them continue to do so. The timber industry in Tasmania is a flourishing industry, and why should the fruit-growers of South Australia be asked to stand a loss to make that industry still more flourishing? The result on the whole to the Commonwealth would be disadvantageous. The honorable member for Franklin knows something of the difficulties with which the people engaged in the fruit-growing industry have to contend, and I am at a loss to understand why he should suggest that the Tasmanian hardwood industry should be benefited at the expense of the fruitgrowing industry of. South Australia.
.- I wish to give honorable members notice that I intend to move the insertion of a new paragraph after paragraph a to the following effect -
Timber, New Zealand pine, free.
It would be a great mistake for the Committee to agree to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Cowper. It would, of course, be possible to manufacture butter boxes in bond, but it would be very expensive and undesirable.
– It is only the cutting of the timber to sizes that would require to be done in bond.
– That would mean that every place at which timber is cut to sizes for the manufacture of butter boxes must be a bond. The honorable member for Boothby has suggested that timber required for the manufacture of fruit cases should be treated in the same way. These amendments would lead to all sorts of complications. One result of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Cowper would be that, in order to save expense in bonding, the work of cutting the timber to sizes would get into the hands of one or two firms.
– What would be the expense of bonding?
– First of all an Excise officer would have to be provided for to take charge of the bond.
– The expense involved would be £25.
– In addition, the owner would have to enter into a bond for a large sum of money, and if he was caught defrauding the Customs that bond would be estreated.
– These bonds would differ from ordinary bonds, as the Excise officer would only require to-be present when the timber was taken out.
– We could not allow distillation in bond to be treated in one way and the cutting of timber to sizes for butter boxes in a different way. The work would have to be done in the bond under the supervision of an Excise officer. In the interests of the butter industry it is not desirable that this work should have to be done in bond.
– The expense might amount to more than a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet.
– The proposal made would not only involve great expense, but it would actually play into the. hands of trust, and the people most concerned would probably prefer to pay the duty on the timber. If the Minister of Trade and Customs believesthat I am wrong I would like him to say exactly what the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Cowper would involve.
– What the honorable member has said as to the cost involved is very wide of the mark. What would happen under the amendment would be that a man would obtain the right to a bond on payment of the sum of£25. Then he would give a paper bend as security for the amount of the duty which would be payable on anything which he kept in the bond. Business men give these securities every day, and they do not cost much. A man would pay£25 for the right to a bond in which the timber would be stored, and he would have to pay 1s. 6d. an hour to an officer for supervising the work while the timber was being cut.
.- After the Minister’s explanation it is clear that it would be better for people to pay the duty than to have this work done in bond.
– The estimate of the Comptroller-General of Customs is that the cost, including£25 for the right to the bond, would not in any case exceed more than about£50 a year.
– There are factories for the manufacture of butter boxes in a number of centres in Australia. There is a very large factory at Warrnambool, where only timber imported direct from New Zealand is used. There are several large factories in Melbourne and Sydney, and in Adelaide there are factories for the manufacture of fruit-cases. The expense involved in the proposal made by the honorable member for Cowper would be so great that people would be better off in paying a duty on the timber.
– And in that case they would pay the duty and dispense with the bond.
– The honorable member is right. They would pay the duty beca usethat would be cheaper than to cut the timber to sizes in bond.
– At 6d. per 100 superficial feet he would have to import 100,000 superficial feet in order to get his bond money back.
– In the interests of the butter industry, which the honorable member for Cowper is trying to serve, it would be better if he did not press his amendment. I ask all honorable members interested in the butter industry to vote against it if it is pressed to a division.
– And leave the duty on the boxes?
– No. We will deal with that later on.
– We know how the honorable member would deal with it.
– We would deal with it in a very liberal spirit in the interest of the two great producing industries of Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby,, that if butter boxes are to be treated in this way fruit cases should be included.
– The honorable member for Lang has administered a castigation to some of his confreres in connexion with some of these duties. I would remind him that the only party in this House pledged on the fiscal question is the Protectionist Party. Free-traders lost their identity in anti- Socialism at the last election, and I do not see. that the honorable member can have any special grievance against those who are not voting with him to-night. If any honorable members are pledged to free-trade, they are pledged individually to their electors; but as parties they are either protectionists, antiSocialists, or labourites.
– There seems to be some confusion about the wording of my amendment. The honorable member for Gippsland has, with a good deal of justification, outlined an amendment upon it, pointing out that if my amendment is carried there is a probability that this. timber might be included under “ n.e.i.,” which would bring the article with which I am dealing under another duty. If the Committee will allow me to amend my amendment by adding the words, “ which shall be delivered free,” suggested by the honorable member for Gippsland, I shall be prepared to do so.
– The honorable member objected to withdraw his amendment to allow anything else to be done.
– I understand that the maker of butter boxes would have to pay£25 first of all to be allowed to manufacture in bond. That means1/2d. per box on 12,000 boxes. He had better pay a small duty on the timber.
Question. - That the words “ and fruit cases,” be inserted after the word “boxes” (Mr. Batchelor’ s amendment of Mr. John Thomson’s -amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 31
– Will the Treasurer be seated? He must return to the other side of the chamber. He crossed the floor after the tellers were appointed. The honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable member for Gippsland must also return. I also saw the honorable member for Flinders cross over.
– I was on the side of the “Ayes,” and crossed to the other side when I understood that the call for the division had been withdrawn. I then returned to this side.
– I also was on the side of the “ Ayes,” and. crossed over in the same way as did the honorable member for Flinders.
– The honorable member for Calare also crossed over. He must return to the other side. I would point out to the Committee, although I do not like to lecture honorable members, nor is it my place to-do so, that honorable members apparently will not take notice of what they should do. A custom is growing up in the Committee of calling divisions off. If that sort of thing is going to occur again then the moment that a division is called for I shall insist on its being taken, because what is now happening only reduces the whole proceedings of? Parliament to a farce, and places me in a position which no honorable member would desire to occupy.
– On a point of order, only one teller is acting for the “Ayes.”
– I was appointed teller for the “ Ayes,” but I was told to come over to the side of the “ Noes,” and sit down.
– The honorable member for Nepean and the honorable member for Lang were appointed tellers for the “ Ayes.” I did not appoint the honorable member for Gippsland. The honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Wannon were appointed tellers for the “Noes.” With regard to the honorable member for Calare, I understand that he was on the side of the “ Ayes “ before the tellers were appointed.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
.- I desire that the words “ andoregon timber “ be added. I feel that it is not consistent with the self respect of the Committee- -
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member for Corio is in order in proposing to add the words “ andoregon timber,” in view of the division just taken ?
– I do not yet know what the proposed amendment is.
– I desire to add the words “andoregon timber.” I do not think it is consistent with the self respect of the Committee, when a majority plainly desire to have a straight vote in regard to oregon timber, fruit cases, and butter boxes, that, by a shuffling of amendments, we should not be able to realize our desire.
– We Have had a vote.
– I submit that we have not. If we have the three amendments put before the Committee, from what I know of the opinion of honorable members -
– I desire to know whether the suggested amendment is in order ?
– The honorable member for Corio would be out of order in submitting that amendment. The Committee have definitely decided that Oregon timber shall not be omitted from the item.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to explain what my amendment is.
– That is not a point of order. The honorable member must either obey my ruling or move that my ruling be disagreed with.
– Then, I move -
That the ruling of the Chairman be disagreed with.
I do not like to disagree with the ruling of the Chairman, but I think we have arrived at the stage when such a step is necessary. To a very large extent, we have been submitting to a number of autocratic rulings on the part of the Chairman. In the past we have, I think, accepted rulings by the Chairman simply because we did not want to waste time. This is a question of whether or not the rights of honorable members are to be respected. I submit that my amendment ought to be received by the Chairman, so long as it does not transgress the Standing Orders. The position is that the honorable member for Barrier submitted a proposal to insert after the word “ undressed “ the words “ Oregon and NewZealand pine.” Since then the honorable member for Cowper has moved, and the Chairman permitted him to move, that New Zealand pine should be exempted. If the proposal to insert “ Oregon “ is out of order, I submit that the amendment to insert “ New Zealand white pine “ was also out of order, inasmuch as the Committee had previously decided that both the word “ Oregon “ and the words “ New Zealand pine” should be “left out.
– I ask the honorable member for Corio to withdraw his motion dissenting from the Chairman’s ruling. It it well known that the Standing Orders provide that when the Committee has once determined any question - as it has done in this case” - its decision must stand. We have already taken one vote in regard to the inclusion in the item of the very words which the honorable member now desires to insert. To my mind, the Chairman is quite within the Standing Orders in ruling as he has done.
– It is with deep regret that I. support the motion of the honorable member for Corio. If ever a Chairman has experienced a trying time, you, sir, have. Further, you have remained in the chair from day to day with very little relief. At the same time, I think that your ruling in the present instance is incorrect. The position is that the honorable member for Barrier moved an amendment upon the item by proposing to insert after the word “ undressed,” the words “Oregon and New Zealand .pine.” Then the honorable member for South Sydney submitted an amendment upon the amendment to leave out the words “ and New Zealand pine,” and the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier was negatived. We were thus brought back to’ the item in its original form, which I take it covers all kinds of timber. The honorable member for Cowper moved to insert after the word “ over “ the words “ other than New Zealand white pine, cut to size for butter boxes in bond,” and the honorable member for Boothby then proposed to insert after the word “ boxes “ the words “ and fruit cases.” The latter amendment has been carried, and the honorable member for Corio now desires to secure the addition of the words “and Oregon timber.” If we regard the proposal of the Government as we would an ordinary motion, I submit that the amendment now proposed is in order in that it has been brought forward at a later stage than the other amendments. ‘
– We all agree that we have subjected you, sir, to a very trying time, and I suppose that I have contributed, with others, to make it a little worse than it might have been. But it seems to me that we ought to recollect that the principle governing the submission of amendments is that, if an amendment has been negatived, no amendment substantially the same can be proposed in respect of the same item.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Cowper ought to have been ruled out of order.
– I am inclined to think that the proper place for that amendment to be moved was in paragraph r, which reads, “Timber for making boxes or drawers.” The object of the amendment of the honorable member for Corio is to exempt oregon timber from duty. We have already negatived an amendment to that effect- “
– No. That amendment had reference to the insertion of the word “ Oregon,” and to making it dutiable at is. 6d. per 100 superficial feet, whereas under my proposal it may be admitted free, or may be subjected to a duty of 5 per cent.
– The rate has not yet been’ fixed. The question which -we have to consider is whether the two amendments are substantially the same - whether an amendment to insert the word “ Oregon “ having been negatived, a proposal to insert it at a later stage is in order. If there were any substantial difference between the two amendments, the position would be different.
– What does the honorable member understand “ timber, n.e.i. “ to mean?
– It means timber which is not included in the following paragraphs of this item, or in any other portion of the Tariff.
– Would not that exclude Oregon ?
– Quite so ; but that does not touch the question of whether we have or have not negatived substantially the amendment which the honorable member for Corio wants to propose.
– I do not think that the position adopted by the honorable member for Corio is the correct one. This evening we have had two divisions on proposals to take Oregon and New Zealand pine out of the general item of timber undressed, and to deal with them either individually or together. The Committee negatived both proposals, and as a consequence oregon and New Zealand pine fell back into the division to be dealt with in conjunction with other items. In view of those decisions, I think that the honorable member for Cowper was out of order in moving that in certain cases white pine be exempted from duty ; but you, sir, ruled otherwise, and I bow to your decision. The honorable member for Corio is now endeavouring to take the same course with oregon, and the only difference between his proposal and the other proposal is that the honorable member for Cowper stipulated that white pine was to be used for a certain purpose. The proposal of the honorable member for Corio is the same as that which was negatived, and, consequently, is out of order. In the circumstances, I think that the only way in which he can bring himself in order will be by stipulating in his amendment the conditions under which the oregon shall be used.
– I hope the honorable member will withdraw his motion. I believe that, technically, he is right; but if I may make use of a paradox, sir, I think that you also are right. The whole trouble has arisen from honorable members moving their amendments wrongly. The honorable member for Barrier moved his amendment not to make oregon subject to a duty of1s. 6d. for100 superficial feet, but to exclude it from the operation of that duty. The honorable member for Corio has submitted a different proposition, and I suggest to him that as the Chairman is trying to help him, he should ask leave to withdraw his motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
,- I desire to make a brief personal explanation. In the last division, I, in common with, I believe, other honorable members, voted ina way in which I had no intention of recording my vote. When I heard the question put from the Chair, I was under the impression that the amendment before the Committee was that of the honorable member for Cowper, to make provision for the exclusion of timber for butter boxes. I was in favour of thatproposal, and so. I crossed to the right of the Chair, thinking that I was going to vote in that way; but afterwards I found that I was voting in favour of the exclusion of timber for the purpose of making fruit cases. Had I clearly understood the question, I would have voted with the noes, instead of with the ayes.
Amendment (by Mr. Wise) agreed to -
That the amendment be amended by adding the words “ which shall be delivered free.”
– I understand that we are about to vote on theoriginal amendment of the honorable member for Cowper, that is, to permit of butter boxes being made in bond.
– And fruit boxes.
– I hope that honorable members will vote against the amendment, because the manufacture of the boxes in bond would be more expensive to the butter packers than would be a small duty on the timber.
Question - That the words “ other than New Zealand white pine cut to size for butter boxes and fruit cases in bond, which shall be delivered free “ (Mr. John Thomson’s amendment, as amended), be inserted in paragraph a - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … ..: 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Fuller) proposed -
That after the figures “1s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, free,” be added.
.- I am advised that if we vote for paragraph a in its present form, the effect will be to throw New Zealand pine under the next two paragraphs, the timber in which is dutiable at 2s. and 2s. 6d., because white pine is not imported in the sizes mentioned in paragraph a. It seems to me that we require a separate paragraph, which might be called paragraph ai, dealing with white pine only.
– The honorable member for Robertson has given notice of such an amendment.
– I desire to move that the figures “1s. 6d.” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ 6d.”
– Some of us are placed in a very awkward position. I am not in favour of all timbers being admitted free. I want to have oregon admitted free, but, as I cannot have that, I want to be careful not to vote so as. to allow other timbers to be admitted free. The reason why I was in favour of free oregon was that we cannot protect any branch of the timber industry in Australia by imposing a duty on oregon, because there is no timber grown in Australia that enters into competition with it. The duty proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay - 9d. per 100 feet superficial - would not cause a single foot less of oregon to be imported. But, though I am in favour of oregon being admitted free, I am not in favour of the free importation of New Zealand pine, because it competes with New South Wales and Queensland timbers. I object even to a duty of 6d. per 100 feet upon oregon, becauseI am opposed to revenue duties. Timber, in my opinion, should either be admitted duty free, or it should bear a protective duty.
Question - That after the figures “1s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, free” (Mr. Fuller’s amendment) be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Knox) agreed to -
That after the figures “1s. 6d.,” paragraph a, the words “andon and after 6th . December, 1907, per 100 super. ft., 6d.,” be added.
Amendment (by Mr. Henry Willis) proposed -
That the following new paragraph be inserted - “ai. New Zealand Pine, on and after 6th December, 1907, free.”
.- Under the old Tariff, New Zealand pine was free, whilst oregon 12 x 6 and over was dutiable at 6d. per 100 superficial feet. The Minister has agreed to oregon being dutiable at 6d. per too superficial feet, and whilst I should like New Zealand pine to be free, I think that if the Minister would agree to its being made dutiable at 6d. per 100 superficial feet we might save a long debate.
– The position has become slightly complicated. What I agreed to was a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet onoregon and New Zealand pine, but. I have since been asked to apply that rate to paragraph b as well as to paragraph a.
– The timber to which it relates was free under the old Tariff.
– No. It was dutiable at1s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet. . The paragraph in the old Tariff read -
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes of 7 in. x 21/2 in. (or its equivalent) and upwards, and less than 12 in. x 6 in. (or its equivalent), per 100 super. feet,1s. 6d.
I am prepared to move the insertion of a new paragraph to read - ai. New Zealand Pine, Undressed, of all sizes, per 100 super. feet, 6d.
– That is what the Minister agreed to this morning.
– I promised to make the rate on New Zealand pine, undressed, which under the old Tariff was admitted duty free, the same as the rate on oregon, which was formerly dutiable at 6d. The amendment I suggest will carry out that promise.
– I do not know of any arrangement, and intend to press my amendment:
. -I would point out to the Committee that, if it wishes to carry out the arrangement, it: will be necessary for some one to move to amend the amendment by omitting the word “free “ with a view to inserting the figure “6d.”
– Let the Minister move to amend it.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyme)agreed to -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ pine “ the words “ undressed, of all sizes, per 100 super. feet.”
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the amendment be further amended by leaving out the word “ free,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ 6d.”
– Whilst I should like to have New Zealand pine admitted free, I am ready, in order to bring the debate to a conclusion, to come to an arrangement with the Minister to secure as low a duty as we are likely to get, and therefore I shall vote to make the duty 6d.
– I know of no arrangement with the Minister, and intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Robertson, because I think we shall do more injury to the great butter-making industry by imposing a duty on New Zealand pine than we can do to the timber industry by making it free.
.- I have not heard of any arrangement. Whilst I am a member, the only arrangements which will have my sanction will be those made in the public eye, on the floor of the House. I am sickand tired of arrangements made either with the ComptrollerGeneral or with the Treasurer behind the scenes. As a representative of the people I shall vote in accordance with the opinions which I have formed after hearing the speeches of other representatives. The honorable member for Robertson can claim the votes of all who during this debate have advocated the importation of New Zealand pine free. Any waste of time that may hereafter be complained of will be on their shoulders. They asked that this timber should be admitted free in the interests of the butter industry. Now we are told that an arrangement has been made. I am about tired of these arrangements. If the honorable member for Robertson presses his amendment to a division, it should receive the support of honorable members who to-day have expressed themselves as anxious that this timber should be admitted free, as it was under the old Tariff.
– I wish only to say that I am not a party to any arrangement. I have protested against duties being heaped on to the primary industries, and I feel it my duty to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Robertson.
– The honorable member for Dalley seems to be under some misapprehension. There was no party arrangement made. Knowing that we could not secure the free admission of this timber, I asked the Treasurer, on my own behalf, whether he would agree to a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet. The Treasurer agreed to the suggestion, and that hinds me only.
– The honorable member for Kooyong was at the same game just now, and said he had made an arrangement.
– That does not matter. Surely any member of the Committee has a right to ask the Minister whether he is prepared to accept a certain duty.
– But he has no right to suppose that that will bind other honorable members.
– Certainly not. The honorable member for Dalley and other honorable members are free to do as they please. I tried to end the debate so far as I was concerned, and entered into an arrangement with the Treasurer, which I considered the best that could be made in the circumstances. I stand to that arrangement so far as I am personally concerned.
– Ihave not addressed the Chair on this question during the whole of the discussion that has taken place upon it. I wish to say now that I have just heard, for the first time, that any arrangement has been come to between the Treasurer and the honorable member for North Sydney, which, if it had been mentioned yesterday morning, would probably have led to a vote being taken on the item at 11 or 12 o’clock yesterday, and we might since that time have passed a dozen of the other items. I shall vote for the free admission of this timber, because I believe that the primary industries of the Commonwealth should be protected.
– It appears that an arrangement was come to between the Minister and the honorable member for Kooyong some time yesterday morning, and we have had to wait until this morning to hear of it. I do not see why honorable members should be considered bound by any hole-or-corner arrangement. Is this the way the legislation of the Federal Parliament is to be conducted ? Are we to be known as the “ holeandcorner Parliament of Australia” ? This kind of business has been going on too long here. It has been attempted not only in this Parliament but in the last Parliament. If the Treasurer desires to make arrangements of this kind, in view of the responsible position he holds, he should make them from the chair he occupies at the table, and at the earliest possible moment.
– No honorable member is bound by any arrangement.
– I know that.
– Then why protest?
– The honorable member for Flinders must know quite well that if honorable membershad been made acquainted with this arrangement at noon yesterday, we should not be here at midnight.
– It would not have made any difference.
– It would have made all the difference in the world. I record my most emphatic protest against so much holeandcorner work in this Parliament.
– I am sorry to hear the honorable member make such a violent speech. What happened was simply this. I received a memorandum from the honorable member for North Sydney only a few minutes ago. I certainly thought the honorable gentleman was acting for most if not for the whole of his’ party. I think the position which the honorable gentleman holds justified me in that impression.
– What position does the honorable member hold?
– The honorable member for North Sydney holds a very high position in this House. I knew he would stand by what he asked me to agree to. Certain other honorable members told me that they would agree to what the honorable member proposed, because although they preferred a lower duty, they considered that a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet was the lowest they could get I agreed in all good faith to what was suggested, and said that the Government would accept a duty of 6d.
– The honorable gentleman did not say so.
– I did. I proposed to move in that direction, and the honorable member for Kooyong, who has taken a great interest in the matter–
-The honorable member for Kooyong had already given me notice of his intention to move a similar amendment.
– All I wish to say is that there is nothing “ holeandcorner “ about the matter. If leaders in this House were not able to make some arrangements on behalf of a certain proportion of their following, it would be very difficult to carry on our work.
– The honorable member for Kooyong is not my leader.
– If the business of Parliament is to be carried on, its arrangement must be largely left to the leaders of the different parties represented, especially in a House consisting of so many parties as we have here. I did not know when the arrangement was first suggested that it would be necessary to move the insertion of a new paragraph) but when the first paragraph of the item was carried, I saw that in order to keep my promise it would be necessary to insert a new paragraph dealing with the importation of New Zealand pine. Though I desired a higher duty than was suggested by honorable members opposite, I took the course which I considered necessary to carry out the agreement I had made in good faith, and I hope the Committee will agree to a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on this timber.
.- I candidly admit that I knew that some move was being made to secure a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on New Zealand pine.
– At what time?
– At about mid-day yesterday. But if I had known that it was to cover New Zealand timber of all sizes, I should have protested, because the timber- card employes will not receive any protec tion under this proposal. Why was not the duty applied to oregon timber of all sizes?
– Because under the old Tariff all pine was free, and oregon in sizes of 12 x 6 was dutiable at 6d.
– In the circumstances, I consider that honorable members on this side have been thrown over by the proposal of the Government.
– A great deal of feeling is being displayed in connexion with this matter. I gave honorable members notice of my intention to move the insertion of a new paragraph to admit New Zealand pine free, and in the circumstances I think that, as a mere matter of courtesy, I should have been approached and told that some arrangement of this kind was on the tapis. I was ignored, however, and at the last moment we are told that an understanding has been in existence since mid-day yesterday.
– That has just been contradicted by the Treasurer.
– Certain honorable members have talked themselves hoarse in favour of making butter boxes free of duty, and are now at the last moment going back upon themselves. Have they forgotten their position as representatives of the people in a deliberative Assembly? For hours on end they declared themselves to be in favour of a principle, and at the last moment they ignored the honorable member whose amendment is before the Committee. As between man and man, that is not a fair thing to do. I am a fairly faithful member of a party. I have fought for a principle, and have stuck to it from beginning to end. I have refrained from moving for high duties, because I felt that it was the duty of those who were in favour of them to move for them. An opportunity comes once in a way, when a member is free, as I am, to move that an item be placed on the free list, but when I move it I find thatthe leaders of my party go behind me, and make an arrangement without consulting me. That shows at least a lack of courtesy towards myself.. Those honorable members have wasted my time as well as their own, and if they do not know what they are in favour of, why do not they go home? I am faithful to my party, but on this occasion they have shown me no courtesy.
– If any honorable member imagines that a compact binding him was made, he is mistaken. At an early stage of the proceedings yesterday, I addressed myself to the question, and said that. I should have liked to see this item madefree, but that I believed that a duty of 6d. could be secured. That was after speaking to the Minister. I said so publicly. It is utterly wrong for any one. to insinuate, as the honorable member for Dalley does, that I spoke on behalf of any party or number of members. There was no compact of that kind, but there was an expression of opinion which the Minister gave quite straightforwardly, and the whole of this business could, therefore, have been settled before lunchtimeyesterday.
– After this new development, it is time the Treasurer informed us whether the rest of the Tariff has been fixed up. The Treasurer spoke of the honorable member for Kooyong as a leader, but that honorable member does not appear to assume that position, and claims to speak for himself only. It is time we understood how many leaders there are. I feel that I have been made rather a fool of by somebody. I was putting up a good fight to-day, when 1 learnt from his own utterance that the honorable member for Kooyong, whom we expected to support our views, had thrown us over because a little while beforehand an arrangement had been made with the Minister, when his vote and those of one or two other honorable members could have secured the placing of the item on the free list.
– The honorable member for Darling has no right to say that an arrangement was made with me. The honorable member for Kooyong made a statement, but I did not agree to anything at the time.
– The Minister is quite right.
– We are told now that the arrangement was made about twelve hours ago. The efforts which we were making to assist the honorable member for Barrier have been wasted, and so has the time of the Committee. Where does the honorable member for Parramatta come in ? Has he been deposed as acting leader of the Opposition ?
– The honorable member must not follow that line of argument.
– If the whole item has been fixed up, has all the rest of the Tariff been fixed up ? It would be as well -for us to know, so that we might have a sleep, and leave the honorable member for Kooyong and the Treasurer to arrange matters between them.
– Have any further arrangements been made with regard to the other items?
– None whatever : and the arrangement referred to was only made two minutes before I spoke just now.
– My sympathy goes out to the honorable member for Robertson. A prominent member of a party, such as the honorable member is, should at least be considered in important matters of principle involved in the policy of the party to which he belongs. That party claim to be the representatives of free-trade pure and simple. I disagree altogether with these arrangements being made by prominent members of a party to the exclusion of any information to even more prominent members. The debate to-day has been more or less a waste of time. The honorable member for Barrier started the ballrolling last night with an amendment for free- Oregon. After the debate had gone on for eight or ten hours, he abandoned his intention, and that started the whole controversy. He alleged that the honorable member for Kooyong had given him some encouragement in the course he was taking, but that later on, when the honorable member for Barrier persisted in the amendment, the honorable member for Kooyong suddenly told him that he had arrived at another decision altogether, and believed that a duty of 6d. was a fair thing.
– That is not correct.
– It is exactly what the honorable member said. He stated, when the honorable member for Barrier was about to speak in reply, that he was in favour of a 6d. duty.
– Yes, I was.
– That seemedto upset the honorable member for Barrier very much, for he immediately abandoned the amendment which had caused that long de-. bate. I say to the Treasurer : Let us into your confidence and tell us what arrangements have been made, so that we may get on with the Tariff and know what is to be done. If the arrangement made had been announced earlier, the matter might have been settled in an hour or two, and we could have gone home.
– Ireally do not see what all thetrouble is about.
– There has been an understanding about nearly every item on the Tariff.
– I fancy that if the honorable member interrogated a prominent member of his own caucus, he would get to know the secret of it.
– I am not objecting; because it is a reasonable way of meeting the different views of honorable members, and arriving at a decision with reasonable despatch.
– This arrangement does not appear to have resulted in reasonable despatch. I have heard nothing of it until it was too late, because I had already promised to support the proposal of the honorable member for Robertson. At the same time, the arrangement is a good one and represents a great concession. I have always been in favour of making butter-box and fruitcase timber free. I may say that as soon as I heard from the honorablemember for North Sydney of the arrangement, I said I thought it was a good one; but I was bound to vote for making this commodity free.
– I had not time to inform the honorable member for Robertson beforethe Minister spoke
– I think this is the time to make a stand, seeing that arrangements of this kind have already been made in respect of several important items. In my opinion, it is not right for honorable members to part with their representative privileges. Who commissioned honorable members to make an arrangement?
– Themselves for themselves.
– I do not wish, to be personal or get heated over this matter; but I should like to know what power the Treasurer has to make any arrangement. I will not surrender my position as a representative.
– The honorable member himself has tried to make arrangements of the kind with the Treasurer.
– I have never tried to make an arrangement to bind anyoneelse but myself.
– Nor did I bindany one else.
– I contend that other ‘ honorable members ought to have been consulted. I object to be kept here nearly the clock round, debating this item, and then be told that an arrangement was made at 10 o’clock or 12 o’clock this morning.
– The arrangement was not made until I got up to speak tonight.
– The honorable member for Kooyong stated that the arrangement was made this morning.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I know that the honorable member for Dalley does not wish to misrepresent me; but I did not say that which he attributes to me, as Hansard will show. What I stated was that it was purely a matter for belief that the Treasurer would give way on this question.
– And I did not give way at that time.
– If arrangements . ‘ are made, we ought to know of them in time. I think that the honorable member for Robertson ought to be supported in his proposal, seeing that he gave notice of it hours ago. This morning, the honorable member for North Sydney made a strong speech in which he advocated that this commodity should be free.
– No arrangement had been made then.
– I spoke of the honorable member this morning as one who never overstated his case, and said that I should be prepared to follow him; but now, at 12 o’clock at night, I am told that “an arrangement has been made.”
– I made no arrangement, but I told the deputy leader of the Opposition about the Minister’s intention the moment a division was called for.
– Well, all I can say is that those who’ believe that these articles should be made free ought to support the honorable member for Robertson.
Question - That the word “free” proposed to be left out stand part of the amendment (Sir William Lyne’s amendment of Mr. Henry Willis’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed. to.
Question - That the figure “6d.” be inserted - resolved in the affirmative.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph B. Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in sizes of 7 in. x 21/2 in. (or its equivalent) and upwards, and less than 12 in. x 6 in. (or its equivalent), per 100 super. feet*, 2s.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) negatived -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 100 super, feet, is. 6d.,” be added.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph c. Timber, undressed, n.e.i., in -sizes less than 7 in. x 21/2 in. (or its equivalent) ; including door stocks, per 100 super, feet*, 2s. 6d.
. -I wish to point out to the Committee that, as regards the remaining paragraphs in this item, the Government proposals are the same as those recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. I suggest that if there are no objections to be offered, a test vote might be taken on this paragraph.
– I understand that the suggestion of the honorable member for Bendigo is practically to take the remaining paragraphs of this item in globo. I am thoroughly opposed to that course being taken. I suggest to the Chairman that each paragraph be put in the ordinary manner.
– That will be done.
– I suggest to the Treasurer that he should agree to reduce this duty to the rate recommended by the Tariff Commission.
– It is fixed at that rate now. I have accepted all their recommendations.
– I have been asked to support an increase of duty in some cases, but I do not propose to do so. I ask the Committee to pass the remaining paragraphs of this item in globo, or, if honorable members like, to take a test division on this paragraph. I do not see the use of taking a division on every paragraph.
Amendment (by Mr.. Bowden) negatived -
That the words “ and on and a fter 6th December, 1907, per 100 super, ft.,1s. 6d.,” be added.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph d (Timber, dressed, n.e.i.). agreed to.
Paragraph E. Architraves, Mouldings, and Skirtings, ofany material, per 100 lineal feet,
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the letters “n.e.i.” be inserted after the word “ mouldings.”
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
ParagraphF (Shingles) agreed to.
Paragraph c. Pickets, undressed, per 100, 2s. 6d.
– I move -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 100,1s.,” be added.
I do not know why the duty on undressed pickets has been raised to this figure.
– Because it is the poor man’s material.
– It is equal to an increase of 150 per cent. on the old duty.
– Surely Australia can produce its own pickets.
– I ask the Minister to agreeto this amendment, because 2s. 6d. per 100 seems to be an enormous duty to impose on undressed pickets. It is nearlyas much as the wood is worth.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph h. Pickets, dressed, per 100, 6s.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) negatived -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per too, 4s.,” fee added.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph 1. Laths, per1,000, 7s. 6d.
– A large number of laths are, I believe, made of softwood.
– They can be, and are, made of our own pine.
– Not to a considerable extent, I think. It will be observed from the statistics that we imported in 1906 25,368,000 laths, and. that the duty paid was£5,356.
– They included laths for Venetian blinds.
– Yes. The Minister might very well agree to a slight increase over the old duty, which was 5s. per 1,000.
– The figures quoted by the honorable member show that the old duty was not operative.
– Surely we can make a lath in this country?
– In the large centres like Melbourne and Sydney, there is no great difficulty about getting laths; but in the country districts the imported lath is indispensable. An increase of1s. over the old duty would be ample. I move -
That the words “and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 1,000, 6s.,” be added.
, - If the Treasurer had a fair idea of the way this duty operates, he would not insist upon maintaining it. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Corangamite show that, no matter what the duty may be, oregon laths must be imported.
– We make any quantity in Western Australia.
– None made there is asgood as the Oregon lath.
– We want the cutting to be done here.
– The cutting is a very small matter indeed. We get no laths in New South Wales that are fit for any but very common work, except oregon laths, and they are used for building purposes throughout Australia. They are easily fixed, regular in size, and do not shrink.
Any ceiling that is put up with these lathsis calculated to stand. The Minister might seriously consider the advisabieness of adopting the amendment.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph J. Laths for Blinds, ad val., 25 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) nega tived -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val., 20 per cent.,” be added.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph K. Spokes, Dressed or Prepared (riot being of Hickory), 2 inch or under in diameter, per 100, 10s.
.- Why has the Treasurer resorted to a fixed duty on spokes, instead of an ad valorem duty, as under the old Tariff?
– Because a fixed duty is recommended by the Tariff Commission.
– That is no reason why it should be accepted. Under a fixed duty, the poorer quality of spokes will pay the same rate as the better kind ; the costly vehicle, whose wheels have expensive spokes, will pay no more than the cheapest waggon. I do not feel inclined to move an amendment. I should like some information from the Treasurer as to the object of imposing a fixed duty instead of an act valorem one.
.- Before the Treasurer replies I should like to ask him to strike out the words “ not being of hickory.” No distinction should be made ; certainly there ought not to be any differentiation in favour of the finest spokes that are imported.
– We have no hickory here.
– Under paragraph x “hickory, undressed “ is free, and when it is so admitted an opportunity is afforded for its being worked up into spokes in Australia. I move -
That the words “not being of hickory”be left out.
.I hope that the amendment will be rejected, for it is very difficult to obtain first-class buggy spokes.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I wish to know whether it is competent for the honorable member to move such an amendment, since, if carried, its effect would be to increase taxation ?
– The duty under the paragraph as it stands is10s.per 100. I do not think that I am called upon to find out under what paragraph hickory spokes would fall if the amendment were made.
– They would come under this paragraph, “ Spokes dressed or prepared.”
– That is so. I rule that it is not competent for the honorable member to move such an amendment.
.- I appeal to the Minister to move the amendment I have suggested. It is useless to make other spokes dutiable, whilst hickory spokes are allowed to come in free. The same remark will apply’ to the paragraph, “ Prepared hubs (not of elm), each,1s.,” for most of the hubs imported are made of elm.
– I think we had better allow the item to remain as it is. It has stood too long to be altered.
.We wish to provide increased employment in Australia, and I feel satisfied that if the Treasurer were to give this matter a few moments’ consideration, he would recognise the desirableness of making the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Yarra. I am in favour of hickory undressed coming in free.
– I understand that this fixed duty is equivalent to 30 per cent. It therefore means an increase of at least 10 per cent.
– Except in the case of hickory spokes.
– This is a very high duty, and it is certainly not sought by the coachbuilders. The Coachbuilders and “Wheelwrights’ Association, ‘ of both Sydney and Melbourne, petitioned the Minister to retain the old duties on these articles.
– They want protection for their vehicles, but no duties on their parts.
– They want no increase of duties in respect of either vehicles or parts.
– Individual coachbuilders have asked for increased dutieson vehicles, and I have had communicationsin favour of parts being admitted free.
– But the associations do not ask for these duties.
– The associations are not representative of the trade.
– If the honorablemember for Parramatta turns to the report of the protectionist section of theTariff Commission, he will see that an application for an increased duty was made.
– I have not thereport at hand, and should be glad if thehonorable member would read the paragraph to which he refers.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) a.m.]. - At page 22 of the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission it is shown that the representative of” the New South Wales Coachbuilders andRailway Car and Waggonmakers, and. Wheelwrights’ Society of Journeymen, consisting of 350 members, asked for increased duties. Our recommendations in favour of fixed duties were based on voluminous representations, although not on the part of Victorians.
– I draw the attention of thehonorable member for Bendigo to the fact that, although Australia uses£3, 000,000- worth of vehicles annually, we imported last year only £9,000 worth. Our coachbuildersadmit that, under the old duty, they have been able to drive the importersout of the market.
– Requests for fixed duties came from New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.
– If very few vehicles, are imported, the duty will not hurt any one.
– This is a duty on spokes, and must, therefore, makevehicles dearer. The coachbuilders object to a duty on their raw material, though they do not ask for any increase in theduty on vehicles. With a view to reducing the rate to 20 per cent. ad valorem, I move - .
That the words “per 100” be left out.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph l (Palings) and paragraph m (Prepared Hubs) agreed to.
Paragraph N. Rims n.e.i., each1s. 3d.
.Can the Treasurer tell us how this fixed rate compares with the old ad valorem rate?
– It is an increase on the 20 per cent. ad valorem rate.
– In that case, I move, with a view to restoring the old rate-
That the word “each” be left out.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph 0. Staves, dressed or partly dressed, but not shaped, per 100, 2s. 6d.
– I do not know why the raw material of the cooper should be charged duty.
– Undressed staves are admitted free under paragraph dd.
– In any case, in the present temper of the Committee, it would be useless to move a reduction.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph p. Three-ply Veneer, per 100 super, feet*, 3s.
– Does the Treasurer propose to strike out the asterisk attached to this paragraph ?
– I intend to move to strike out both notes at the bottom of the page.
– And the striking out of the asterisks and dagger will be consequential ?
– Yes. In proposing a duty of 3s. in this case, I followed the recommendation of the Tariff Commission; but there must have been a misunderstanding of the position. ft is nonsense to suppose that we cannot produce here veneers as good as any in the world, and perhaps better. I therefore move -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 100 super, feet, 5s.,” be added.
.- The proposal of the Treasurer is to increase the duty by 2s. more than the rate recommended by the Tariff Commission. We shall not be warranted in doing so on the explanation which he has given.
.- If three-ply veneer is to be made dutiable at 5s. per 100 superficial feet, there should be some alteration made in the next paragraph, and some duty should be imposed on veneers n.e.i.
– I intend to propose a duty of 3s. per 100 superficial feet on veneers n.e.i.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph Q. Veneers, n.e.i.,free.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 100 super, ft., 3’s.,” be added.
.- I think the Treasurer might condescend to tell the Committee why he moves this amendment. The honorable gentleman has submitted a Tariff in which he has proposed that these veneers should be admitted duty free, and I think we should know what influence has been brought to bear upon him to induce him now to propose a duty of 3s. per 100 superficial feet.
– None whatever. I followed the recommendation of the Tariff Commission in the first instance, but without going into minute details I knew that we had in Australia the best veneering woods in the world.
– I suppose the alteration is proposed because the Minister knows that a veneering machine has been imported ?
– I do not know it.
– Oh, the honorable gentleman knows all about it.
– The honorable member has no right to say that. It is a. very improper thing to say. The honorable member is measuring my corn ‘with his own bushel.
– It is a very improper thing for the Treasurer to propose an increase of duty without notice.
– I should like to say that when we have such valuable and beautiful timbers that we have in Australia, I see no reason why veneers should be admitted duty free.
– I should like to ask the Chairman of the Tariff Commission to say why the Commission recommended that veneers,n.e.i., should be free.
– May I say that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission made no recommendation with respect to paragraph Q. Veneers, n.e.i. Our recommendation referred only to three-ply veneer, and we recommended that the duty should be 3s. per 100 superficial feet. There is no reference to veneers, n.e.i., in our report, and I can only suppose that this paragraph has been introduced on the advice of the Customs authorities.
– The B section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
– For revenue purposes.
.- I think the Treasurer is doing the right thing in proposing a duty on veneers, n.e.i. For many years I have been getting veneers cut from the best of our Tasmanian blackwoods, and they are better than anything that can be imported. We have too long delayed the imposition of a duty on veneers.
– Suppose I desire to use a rosewood veneer?
– The honorable member would only have to pay the duty, and he could import what he wanted.
. -I confess that I do not know very much about veneers, but I protest against this method of cubing business. This Tariffhas been in actual operation for some months. We see that under it veneers, n.e.i., may be admitted free, and that they were free under the old Tariff, and we have also been informed that the A section of the Tariff Commission recommended thatthey should be free.
– That is a mistake.
– After we have been given all this information, the Treasurer, at the last minute, in the early hours of the morning, and after a long and tedious debate, moves that veneers, n.e.i., should be dutiable at 3s. per 100 superficial feet. That is certainly not a reasonable way in which to deal with the business, and I enter my protest against it:
Question - That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, per 100 super, feet, 3s.” be added to paragraph q (Sir William Lyne’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph R. Timber, for making boxes or doors, being cut into shape, and dressed or partly dressed, per 100 feet super, facet, 2s. 6d.
*Definition of Super. Face. - The term “super, face “ means the lineal measurement of that part of the timber actually planed.
.Does the Treasurer intend to strike out the footnote? I notice that this is a specific duty. I move -
That after the figures “ 2s. 6d.” the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val., 20 per cent.,” be added.
– What is meant by timber dressed or partly dressed for doors? Does it mean that they are to be mortised, tenoned, or ploughed for panels?
– The wording of the paragraph speaks for itself. Whether the doors are dressed, partly dressed, or completely dressed and finished, the duty goes on.
.Does this paragraph refer to the material which was classified in the last Tariff as door stock?
– That is included in paragraph c.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph s. Picture and Room Mouldings, ad val., 20 per cent.
– This is a case where the Minister might slightly increase the duty, say, to 30 per cent.
– I was about to move for duties of 30 and 20 per cent.
– Make them 30 and 25 per cent.
– Very well. I move -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom),25 per cent.,” be added.
This is the second time at this hour of the night that new duties have been sprung upon the Committee without the slightest warning. That is a very undesirable practice, when honorable members are physically exhausted and unable to grasp the bearing of alterations. There ought to be some difference made between picture and room mouldings, as in the last Tariff. I shall content myself with making a protest against the constant insertion of new duties without notice.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph t (Broom stocks) agreed to.
Paragraph u. Timber, bent or cut into shape, dressed or partly dressed, n.e.i., ad val., 30 per cent.
– This is one of the duties which the coachbuilders suggest should be reduced. One coachbuilder tells me that whilst the Colonial bent timber is very suitable for some classes of ‘ work, there are other classes for which it is not at all suitable. Where they can use Australian woods they do so, and, in some instances, prefer it; but there are finer branches of the work where imported wood is required, and, whatever the duty, it must be obtained. Under the circumstances, I think the Treasurer might accept the proposal to reduce the duty to 20 per cent. This would assist the industry very materially.
– I am willing to agree to a duty of 25 per cent.
– Then,I move-
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val., 25 per cent.,” be added.
.The honorable member for Corangamite has stated that Australian wood is not suitable for this class of work; but the honorable member for Boothby told us yesterday that Tasmanian blackwood had been tested in Adelaide for the making of bent wood chairs, and found to be suitable; and, if that be so, it can be used for any kind of bentwork. I suppose that if this blackwood were grown somewhere about Warrnambool, the honorable’ member for Corangamite would take a different view. I intend to support the duty of30 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph v. Hickory spokes, dressed, 2 inches and under in diameter, free.
– At an earlier stage, the honorablemember for Parramatta asked me on what authority the Tariff Commission made their recommendation in reference to these spokes ; and, in reply, I beg to quote the following from the report of the Commission -
By another Melbourne carriage-builder : A duty on finished spokes and rims (Q. 80309), but hickory spokes should be free, unless they could be manufactured locally, in which case the rough hickory should be exempted. - (Craine, Q. 80308.)
By a further Melbourne witness : The Victorian Tariff - a fixed duty on finished vehicles and parts. - (Q. 80605). Hickory spokes under i£ inches free, above that size dutiable, as blue- gum could then be used. Hubs also should be exempted, as well as hickory rims up to 2 inches; in sizes above that there should be a heavy duty. - (Hoth, Q.80611-2.)
– Hickory undressed might be permitted to come in free, but I fail to see why the Australian makers of wheels should be robbed of their right to some protection.
– These spokes are dressed by machinery.
– I am assured by both employers and employed that hickory spokes can be dressed in. Australia, and therefore I move -
That paragraph v be left out.
– I ask your ruling as to whether the honorable member is in order in submitting an amendment which will have the effect of increasing the duty..
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not in order in submitting such an amendment.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph x (Hickory, undressed) agreed to.
Footnotes : -
*Note - 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. +Definition of Superficial Face. - The term “ super, face “ means the lineal measurement of that part of the timber actually planed.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the footnotes be left out.
– When the question of these notes was brought up yesterday we were promised some explanation by the Treasurer. Before we eliminate them, we ought to have that explanation. ,
– I supplied it at an early stage of the sitting.
– At the present moment I understand that the Customs authorities are adopting a false’ system in regard to the measurement of timber. If the ‘Government intend that the true system of measurement shall be followed, I have nothing to urge by way of objection.
-. - The method proposed is to measure only one surface.
– The piece of wood which I hold in my hand is a sample of the timber used by the makers of cigar boxes. The outside surface has been prepared, but the inside is in a rough state. If it were planed upon both sides, I contend that both sides should be included in its superficial measurement, but not the edges.
– The two footnotes, which I desire to strike out, are responsible for the trouble to which the honorable member has referred. When they have been eliminated we shall revert to the old system - the ordinary system of surface measurement.
. I desire to point out to the Treasurer that wood which has been planed upon both sides is in a greater state of preparedness than is wood which has been planed upon only one side. I wish to know if, in regard to i-inch boards, twelve will be counted to the foot?
– Here is a piece of timber which, by some extraordinary method of reasoning, was calculated to contain 4’ superficial feet. I understand, however, that it is now proposed to charge upon the measurement of only one face of such timber - upon its running length. Is that so?
– In every case, the trade method of measurement will be followed.
Amendment agreed to; footnotes left out.
Paragraph y (Elm Hubs, with or without metal bands) and paragraph . z (Engravers’ Boxwood and Engravers’ Maple Wood) agreed to.
Paragraph aa. Logs, not sawn, free.
.- festerday it was repeatedly stated that these logs would not be imported by merchants on account of the increased freight charges upon them. As I do not desire to see the Tariff burdened with provisions of a useless character, I intend to move -
That the paragraph be left out.
.T would point out that if logs not sawn are removed from the free list, they may fall under another item under which they will be dutiable. In that case, the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay would have the effect of increasing taxation, and I submit, therefore, that it is out of order.
The TEMPORARY- CHAIRMAN (Mr.
Batchelor). - That is so. The effect of the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Wide Bay would be to increase taxation, and therefore it cannot be received.
– Yesterday we were repeatedly assured by members of the Opposition that logs not sawn could not be imported. If that be so, where is the utility of retaining this paragraph?
– If the honorable member for Wide Bay will tax his memory a little, he will find that his statement is not quite correct. He informed the Committee that over 1,000,000 feet of log timber had been imported, and I admitted that. I understood the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to declare that I had said that no log’s had been imported. I agreed with the honorable member for Wide Bay that over 1,000,000 feet of log timber had been imported, and I said’ that it had been imported for a special purpose.
– Not to be sawn up or to give employment.
– I said that the timber had been imported in the log where large sizes were required, and that it did not pay to import the logs for making butter boxes and fruit cases. I proved my statement by showing that out of 225,000,000 feet of timber imported, only the small quantity of 1,000,000 feet had been imported in the log, and for special purposes. If we impose a duty on the logs, we shall penalize those persons who require the timber for special purposes.
.The remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney only substantiate the position taken up by the honorable member, for Wide Bay. Because the logs to which the former has referred are imported for special purposes where large sizes are required, and not to give employment to people. We are not warranted in levying a duty upon the logs.
– They are sawn and planed in many cases.
– In the majority of cases, the logs are not imported for the purpose of being planed or worked, but areput into a building almost in their rough state, and boxed or veneered. The Opposition are really swallowing their principles. All day long they have been declaring that these logs cannot be imported.
– Although I think that the ruling of theChair is correct, still, it will not preventme from voting against the paragraph ; but seeing that the Opposition have recanted, I do not think it would be right to call for a division.
Paragraph agreed to.
Paragraph b b (Spars in the rough) paragraph c c (Spokes, Rims and Felloes, of Hickory); and paragraph dd (Staves, undressed) agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 304. Wicker, Bamboo and Cane, all’ articles n.e.i. made of, whether partly or wholly finished, ad val. (General. Tariff), 45 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 40 per cent.
– In the tropical parts of Queensland and Western Australia, especially in the bush, where many ‘ persons live insmall cottages, a great quantity ofwicker, bamboo, and cane articles is used, especially bamboo blinds to keep out the sun. The proposed duties of 45 and 40 per cent. represent an increase . of over 100 per cent. on the old duty. It is a heavy tax on what is really a necessary of life to a great many persons, especially poor’ persons. I ask the Treasurer to accept duties of 25 and 20 per cent. An enormous quantity of this material is used in towns like Rockhampton by persons who cannot afford to pay a great deal for their furniture. In my opinion it is an unjustifiable tax to impose on light, cool furniture which is essential to any one who lives in tropical country. These articles are used pretty well all over Australia, but especially in towns in Queensland where a great number of persons live in small cottages.
– The majority of the people of Queensland do not want black labour.
– This light, cool furniture is used not only in Queensland, but also in Western Australia and SouthAustralia.
– It is made by Chinamen.
– The honorable member is not acquainted with anything outside Bourke-street and Port Melbourne. Queensland and Western Australia seem to stink in his nostrils. I submit to the Treasurer that it is not fair to impose this very heavy burden upon the users of these articles. I hope that the Committee will reduce the duties as I suggest: I move -
That after the words “45 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 6th December; 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- I think that the duties ought to be reduced to 35 and 30 per cent., and shall be prepared to move accordingly. This item will stand a little higher duty than furniture.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Bass that the duty on this item should be a little higher than on ordinary furniture. In my judgment, it should be a little less. Indeed, there is no necessity for any duty at all.
– The honorable member knows that all these goods are made in China.
– How much is imported? Only £4,896 worth, divided amongst 4,000,000 people ! . And all of it, the honorable member says, is made in China ! Upon my word, honorable members opposite must be almost mad. Where is the sense in a duty like this? The figures show that our own furniture-makers have driven the importers out of the market.
– Is the honorable member sorry for that?
– Not at all; I am glad of it.
– Are goods of this class made by our furniture-makers?
– Yes; if the honorable member goes to Anthony Hordern’s shop in Sydney, he will find some of the finest work of this class in the world, and it is all made there. I bought a beautiful little table there ten years ago, and the work in it is as fine as could be found anywhere. Let me tell honorable members opposite that they are the people who are always crying stinking fish, by saying that we cannot make anything in Australia, because of the competition of the Chinese and the Japanese.
– I will agree to make the duty the same as on ordinary furniture.
– It seems to me that we are going mad about the Chinaman and the Japanese. Anything more ridiculous has never been stated. If there is one thing more than another that stands out clearly with regard to the furnituremakers in Australia, it is that under present conditions they have fairly captured the market, and beaten the importer out of it. Why therefore should we increase the duty ? This class of furniture is necessary in the tropical parts of Australia. Cheap wooden furniture cannot be used up there. It falls to pieces from the heat. Honorable members should be reasonable in this matter. They should not strain at a gnat.
– The most important part of the item affects blinds. They are very expensive, and are most necessary in Northern Queensland. . I am battling for people whose comfort is dependent upon the use of these articles. The, furniture is not so important. If the Treasurer will agree to make the duty on the blinds 20 per cent., I shall not object to the other articles coming under the general item of furniture, the duties for which have already been agreed upon.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.,” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 305. Basketware, n.e.i., per cubic foot outside measurement, or ad val., whichever ratereturns the higher duty, (General Tariff),1s; 11/2d., 45Per cent. ; (United Kingdom),1s., 40 per cent.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ per cubic foot outside measurement or,” and “ whichever rate returns the higher duty,” be left out.
That the figures “1s.11/2d.” and “1s.” be left out.
That after the words “40 per cent.,” the words “and on and after 6th December, 1907. ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.,” be added.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 306. Wood, all articles made of, n.e.i., whether partly or wholly finished ; including Bellows; Sashes, and Frames; Wire Doors; Window Screens; Walking Sticks; Hods; Mallets ; Rakes ; Grain Shovels ; Saw Frames ; Mitre Boxes; Wood Bungs; Wood Type; Wood Rules; Washboards; and Knifeboards, ad val. (General Tariff), 40 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent.
– Does the Minister propose to reduce these duties to 35 per cent. and 25 per cent. ?
– No; I am prepared to reduce them to 35 per cent. and 30 per cent.
– I would point out that saddletrees of wood which come under this item were previously on the free list. Then again, whilst we make walking-sticks in Australia, there are some varieties that we cannot produce here and which many people favour.
– Those who are not satisfied with Australian walking-sticks ought to be prepared to pay for imported ones.
– But surely we should not expect them to pay upon them such a high duty as this. Then, again, why should hods and mallets be subject to these duties? They are made of a special kind of wood.
– And a better variety is obtainable in Australia.
– We cannot produce lignum vita mallets in Australia. If the Treasurer would agree to reduce these duties to 35 per cent. and 25 per cent, the item would be passed without further debate.
– Saddletrees come under this item, and it was my intention to move as I did when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration, that they should be placed on the free list. I have found, however, that we can make in Australia saddletrees that are superior to the imported article, and that they are sold at a reasonable price.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilson) proposed -
That after the words “40 per cent.” the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 35 per cent.,” be inserted.
.- I would remind the Committee that malacca canes are not made in Australia; and yet under this item they are subject to very high duties.
Amendment (by Mr. Bowden) put -
That after the words “ 30 per cent.,” the words “ and on and after 6th December, 1907, ad val. (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.” be added.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in, the negative.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until 2 p.m. this day.
The Clerk laid upon thetable the following paper -
Northern Territory - Particulars as to Lands, Revenue, Railways, &c- Return to an Order of the House, dated11th July, 1907.
House adjourned at 2.44 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 December 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071205_reps_3_42/>.